• “How to Grow Perennial Vegetables,” by Martin Crawford, offers great advice for gardeners (like me), who love having a garden and lots of veggies, but appreciate the beautiful idea of low-maintenance gardening.
• “The Sunset Western Garden Book: The 20-Minute Gardener,” by Kathleen Norris Brenzel, has wonderful pictures of clever projects for charming outdoor living, with plants and designs for quick and easy gardening, as well as sections on the planting and care of individual plants.
• Mel Bartholomew has written a new edition of “All New Square Foot Gardening.” He first wrote about his new, revolutionary way to grow more in less space in the 1970s. He promotes gardening in frames compartmentalized into square feet, using excellent soil in a depth of six inches. The resulting compact, neat garden has a strong appeal. Excellent instruction and pictures are included.
• “Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less),” by Angela England offers scaling down in a larger way. Grow what you need and sell what you don’t while farming on a smaller scale.
• David L. Culp will teach you how to master “The Layered Garden (Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage).” Culp is a master of planting so that as one plant reaches its peak, another begins its ascent, resulting in a constantly flowing play of color throughout the seasons. He makes this complicated process easier with information gleaned from his decades of experimentation at his own Brandywine Cottage.
• Two books examining both the actuality and philosophy of gardening include “Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City,” by Eric Toensmeier, with contributions from Jonathan Bates. The two men went beyond basic gardening to development of a natural, self-sustaining ecosystem on their small lot, including unusual edible plants and a pond with edible water plant. Meanwhile, Margaret Roach gives us “The Backyard Parables: Lessons on Gardening and Life,” ruminating on her 30 years of gardening and how the spirit can be fed when one gardens with head, hands and heart.
I’ll be kicking back watching some of our new DVDs. Thanks to Liz who suggested we get the HBO series “Treme.” A funny, dark, sharp look at the proud city of New Orleans after Katrina, “Treme” centers on complicated characters and shows the humor, resilience, hope and despair of a city in choas. And the music (the music!) — many of the characters are musicians and many well-known musicians offer musical cameos in “Treme.” So many styles of New Orleans music tie together the numerous storylines until the music becomes a force of nature itself.
Heidi van der Heuvel is a librarian at the Ottawa Library.