Gardening is about more than tools and plants. It is about knowledge and information – because the tools and plants alone won’t take us very far. I am a reader, so I depend on garden magazines to keep me up to date. Gifts of information include membership in a society or subscription to a magazine is an easy gift to arrange and a beautiful and useful gift to receive.
One magazine, The American Gardener, comes to me through the American Horticultural Society. I’ve been a devoted member of the AHS for many years and I welcome each bi-monthly magazine which comes with news of individual plant cultivars, organic techniques, gardener profiles, book reviews and news of AHS activities that might give us inspiration for community gardening projects in our own area. For myself, I am now part of a group working on improving the plantings at The Energy Park at the end of Miles Street. Gardens are not only for our own pleasures, but also for the pleasure of our communities – and the environmental health of our communities. I should mention membership ($35 for one) in the AHS brings many other benefits like reduced entry to over 300 public gardens and arboreta in the U.S.
While The American Gardener is full of practical advice, Garden Design magazine has a more glamorous look at gardens and plants and garden styles. Garden Design has plenty of hard information, too, but the look is more luxurious. It does not have any advertising and publishes seasonally, four times a year. It has been described as a ‘bookazine’ and it’s exciting to see it arrive in the mailbox. This book is a happy change from its former incarnation that focused heavily on furnishings and décor. You can order it online at subscribe.gardendesign.com. Cost is $45 a year, but the first issue is free – giving you five issues.
Horticultural and plant societies are other ways to gain information about plants and gardeners. In addition to the American Horticultural Society, I belong to the New England Wildflower Society which maintains the Garden in the Woods in Framingham and operates Nasami Farm in Whately, where I spent a fair amount of time this past summer buying native plants for my new garden. The NE Wildflower Society is the oldest conservation society in the nation and offers many classes and workshops for adults and children, with discounted fees for members. Their Go Botany website is free to all, helping us to identify the plants that we might see and be curious about. Membership is $40 for one individual and $55 for one individual with access to The Garden in the Woods.
Does the gardener in your life have a particular passion for one family of plants? There are specific societies from African violets to conifers, herbs, irises and more. The AHS has a page listing many of these societies with contact information. I was a member of the New England Rose Society and found their website and printed materials very useful, but the meeting I attended disappointed me because all the gardeners there were competitive men using lots of chemicals. I admit it was only one meeting, but a sufficient disappointment that I never attended another. Annual membership fees in most societies range from $25-$50. Memberships can be bought online, and they can be marked as a gift.
One informational gift I get every year and treasure is the calendar from the University of Massachusetts. It is a service of the Extension Service which also provides soil testing, tick testing, and diagnosing plant problems to home gardeners. The calendar includes a stunning photograph for every month, and information and seasonal tips for every day of the year. Before you even get to the dates section of the calendar this year’s edition gives suggestions for gardening in a dry season, with lists of drought tolerant perennials and annuals. You can order the calendar online for $12 plus $3.50 for shipping, or send your order and check made out to UMass to UMass Garden Calendar, c/o Andrew Associates, 6 Pearson Way, Enfield, CT06082.
Good information is important, but beauty is essential. Marjie Moser of Paint & Dye in Shelburne Falls has created beautiful ways to be with plants in the off season. She takes various kinds of silk and prints them with leaves and flowers. She has some kind of magic wrapping technique that transforms the (deadheaded) flowers from the Bridge of Flowers into phantasmical images. Her silk scarves range in price from $36-$68. She also dyes and prints linen table runners ($48-$68) with her leafy prints, as well as totes, tea towels and t-shirts, ranging in price from $10-$32. Of course the Paint & Dye offers many other treasures like printed pillows, beeswax candles and her own handmade scented soaps. Moser is a quilter and I bought a small elegant quilted case that closes with a unique Japanese button for a granddaughter who is never without her smart phone. For more information about Moser logon to her website marjoriemoser.com.
Internet shopping has become popular, but I enjoy visiting local stores and small shops where I can find beautiful items made locally – from saws at OESCO to tea towels at Paint & Dye. The gifts are unique and our local economy benefits. Happy shopping to all!
December 10, 2016