Five important books about gardening

Dec. 25, 2012 @ 04:13 PM

There’s just something special about Christmas. If you’ve celebrated this day, this time, this season since you were a child, you know what I mean. I’m still thrilled by Christmas. I’m a lot like our grandchildren. I love the Christmas tree Nadine and I put up every year. I love the Christmas food. I love the decorations. Years ago we made Christmas bears part of our Christmas decorations. We still have over 40 that greet us when we walk into our den. I love the Christmas food. I love the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke because it never gets old. I love Christmas music and cantatas. I love Christmas food. I love the look on our grandchildren’s faces when they open their Christmas presents.

Obviously, giving and receiving gifts are a big part of Christmas. When you’re a child the receiving is the best part. When you become an adult, you know the joy of giving to others is where it’s at. I know there are some who humbug the idea of gifts. You know who they are without them expressing a single opinion. They’re pretty much in the corner by themselves with their face showing a big frown. Giving and receiving gifts is about as biblical as you can get. Whosoever was willing received the best gift in the form of a baby, born in Bethlehem and placed in a manger. Later, that child received 3 different gifts from wise men. That must be the beginning of the giving of gifts at Christmas.

I hope you received exactly what you want or needed from Santa or??? If you’re a gardener or a want-to-be gardener and your pocket is bulging with Christmas cash, I have some suggestions. Since this is my last column I wanted to share some things that have helped me become a more knowledgeable gardener. Those things are books. I know people who can’t understand why I still love books. After all, they have their computers, the internet, and their favorite websites. One of my most enjoyable pleasures in life, though, is to sit back in my favorite chair and pour over a really good book. We have many books on numerous subjects. Obviously, a lot of those deal with plants and gardening.

I spent some time recently determining which 5 books were the most important and why. If you can afford all 5, you will have a small reference library on gardening. They may not cover every subject or aspect of gardening, but they come close. These are the books I would not be without.

1. “Southern Living Garden Book” This great reference book has 720 pages full of information. It contains over 7,000 plant listings and color photographs for the main ones. I use the Southern Plant Encyclopedia the most. For the novice gardener this book explains the climate zones in the South, so you don’t make a mistake. It has a plant selection guide also to help prevent you from making the wrong choices. Other information helps you identify weeds and pests. A glossary explains gardening terms you may not have understood. The Resource Directory lists many of the top nurseries, complete with addresses, phone numbers and websites. This is probably the best all around reference book and it is just for gardeners in the South.

2. “Month-By-Month Gardening in the Carolinas” I love this book and you will also. It is divided into sections such as Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, Shrubs, Lawns, Vegetables, Trees, Water Gardening and more. For each subject it list chores to consider for every month of the year. For example, in “Roses” for April it suggests planning needs, planting, pruning, care, watering, fertilizing and pest control. If you have difficulty remembering every chore for every plant, purchase this book. 384 pages.

3. “North Carolina Gardener’s Guide” Toby Bost is the author and he knows NC plants. In each group of plants he gives his opinion about the top ones. For example, the Perennials group has 25 plants. Each one is worthy of a full page of information. If my copy disappeared tomorrow, I would replace it ASAP. 272 pages.

4. “Pruning and Training” This is published by The American Horticultural Society. If you’ve ever asked when and where to prune any plant, pull up a chair. It also breaks the different plants into sections and explains how and when. It lists plants from A-to-Z and contains over 1500 detailed illustrations and photographs. 336 pages.

5. “Plant Propagation” It’s also published by The American Horticultural Society. Do you want to propagate that valuable heirloom plant? This is the book for that subject. It is broken down into sections for herbs, vegetables, bulbs, annuals and biennials, cacti, shrubs, climbing plants and more. This is a great book for the serious gardener. 320 pages

By checking internet sites you can purchase most of these books at a good discount. Do something for yourself that will last for decades. Turn that Christmas cash into reference books. Once you have your books, you are ready for spring gardening.

Remember, I talked earlier about how Christmas was both getting and giving? I hope you remembered the giving part and I’m not talking about to people that have everything. With as little as 10 dollars a month, you have the power to change someone’s life. Many times I’ve heard individuals say they can’t help anyone because they’re on a fixed income. Most of us are on a fixed income. It’s fixed by our employers, the government, circumstances or other. It’s always going to be a certain fixed amount. You may not think you can help someone with just $2.50 a week. When 10 people do the same thing, it is $1,200 in a year. 100 people provide $12,000 in a year. You get the point. There is strength in like minded individuals working together.

We don’t have to go to Africa, Asia or far away to change someone’s life. The hungry, the hurting, the desperate and the poor are around us, if we take the time to notice.

Finally, I want to thank all of you that have faithfully read my column for the last 8 years. Over 360 columns have been evidence that I’ve had something to say. Thank you for your responses with letters, phone calls, e-mails and personal encounters. I have thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it’s been hard work at times. I hope in some small way that I’ve helped you. I believe in the people of Union County, gardeners and otherwise. I’ll still be available if I can help you in some way. It’s interesting how things work out. For years my voice was heard in pulpits. For the last 8 years it has also been heard on the printed page thanks to the Monroe Enquirer Journal. I’m not sure where it’ll be heard next, but I can’t wait to find out.

Thank you for listening.

Tom (and Nadine)

*Once again, I’ll leave you with something to ponder. “Everyone needs three things in life. Somebody to love. Something to do. Something to look forward to.”