Friday, May 4, 2012

Handmade Garden Projects, a book review


This is the last book I thought I’d be writing a review of. Why? Well, I am not a lover of garden art. It makes me kind of anxious, a little uncomfortable. Like you emptied out the kitchen cabinets and there was “stuff” left all over the place, stuff that didn’t need to be there. Clutter that instead of adding to the experience takes away from it.

That’s what I thought this book was about. Even though I’ve visited the author’s personal garden (which is fabulous) I still had reservations. Then I finally read the book. And it’s not all about garden art, it’s about making what you need (or want) out of what you have (or can cheaply/easily find), that’s a concept I can get behind!
photo by Allan Mandell, courtesy of Timber Press

Handmade Garden Projects by Lorene Edwards Forkner is a series of well-photographed and inspiring garden visits, and projects, meant to enhance your garden. There are plenty of extras too, like eight "plant features”...lists of plants with titles such as autumn attractions, fragrant plants and grasses beyond turf. As a former nursery owner this woman knows her plants.
While supplying the detailed information required to complete the many projects (materials lists, step by step instructions, photos) Lorene also manages to get your brain working on other “inspired by” ideas. The gabion pieces in her garden…
photo by Allan Mandell, courtesy of Timber Press

Have me thinking of building a (much) smaller version here…
I had previously planned to replace these cement blocks with metal pipe lengths (used as planters for small succulents) but after researching how many it would take to span the length I feared it would look too busy. Creating a small gabion “retaining wall” would work perfectly with the gravel mulch and rocks already used throughout my garden.

Another project on my list, a succulent gutter garden inspired by the one I saw at Lorene’s  (unfortunately mine won’t have a hammock nearby) …
When I finally get to these projects I’ll be referring to the book for tips. In fact I see myself returning to this book whenever I have a “what should I do about…” moment. Like when I asked for ideas of what to grow a new Clematis on. I would have loved to have seen this image to get ideas a flowing…
wire trellis, photo by Allan Mandell , courtesy of Timber Press

Finally it would be remiss of me not to mention there are several projects in this book which are on the “arty” side, like the vinyl wallflowers shown in the lower right-hand corner of the book cover (these scare me). But since the instructions are so thorough (and many include bonus ideas tagged as “try this”) even some of the projects I would never consider doing have useful information included, which might come in handy on a future project. Of course there plenty of people out there who want to include art in their garden, and they may like these projects best of all.

I found Handmade Garden Projects to be a fun book to read, one that inspires you to get out there and make it happen, which is what gardening is all about! Want more? Visit Planted at Home, Lorene’s personal blog, where you might learn about a new project or an upcoming speaking date near you.

(and my usual disclaimer…Timber Press supplied me with a FREE copy of Handmade Garden Projects. I read it and decided to write a review, there was no pressure to do so. As I mentioned above I wasn’t so sure I was even going to like this book, but I did. If I hadn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this!)

18 comments:

  1. A friend from church bought me this book!

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    1. Have you read it yet? Any projects you've bookmarked?

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  2. Looks like an interesting read.

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    1. Yes it is. Timber Press books must be pretty available in your part of the world, since they have a UK website, right?

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  3. The gutter succulent planter is really great... especially with the hammock to enjoy them all. I have two hammocks from Mexico that I have never found a place to hang.

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    1. They certainly take up a large chunk of real-estate don't they? (hammocks I mean)

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  4. The best thing about every garden book is the photos -- they're what I use for inspiration, and this book seems to have plenty to inspire!

    When you said "This is the last book I thought I’d be writing a review of. " I thought you meant that you were sick of reviewing books and were giving it up. :-)

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    1. No! Not gonna happen. I've got a couple of books in library (even a couple of not Timber Press books) which I am excited to read next, and of course I'll share them...if their good.

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  5. I'm impressed with the gabion projects. That's one solution I have considered for a low dividing wall. Since there aren't many ready-made small things like that out there, this book could be in my future. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Yay, glad you enjoyed it! And I happen to know that JJ placed an order for this book a while back, so maybe you can pick it up when you visit the expanded Digs?

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  6. I read this book a while back too, and reviewed it. I loved it! I'm glad you found it inspiring too. She really gets your creative juices flowing. I'm sure your gutter garden and gabion wall will look fabulous! I'm wondering if you have any architectural salvage yards near you? Those are great places to look for stuff to use in your garden.

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    1. We do, one that I've never been to and need to visit soon!

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  7. I own this book and it is really inspiring. I made a 'rustic lightweight trough' and I am about to fill it. Succulents!

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  8. going on my hold list at the library...I love garden art, but mostly in other people's gardens(and books, of course).

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    1. I love the library..."try before you buy"

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  9. I think I just found my next Amazon purchase. Thanks for the heads up!

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  10. Thank you so much for making the distinction between garden ART and garden PROJECTS. I too am sensitive to too many tchotchkes in the landsscape. Indeed, my garden is still suffering from "Projectland" overload having built and shot everything here. This summer I hope to renovate and simplify. I'm thinking more gabion walls and fences and a couple giant earthen mounds planted in ornamental grasses. Thanks for such a thoughtful review!
    Lorene

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