October 31, 2014

Book Review: Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening.

When I was looking for good and reliable source of organic gardening information,somebody recommended Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: The Indispensable Green Resource for Every Gardener Untill today I am very grateful and this is why I am going to review that book for you.

What’s best about this book? Information is not scattered all around in short entries, which makes using it more difficult if you need to dig the subject. What you will really like, all knowledge is practically organized into complete entries that provide information in a style ‘all you need to know about…’.

For example if you need to learn about fig trees, there is everything about it: selecting the trees, planting and care, container culture, pruning and propagation, winter care, problems and harvesting. All in one entry.

Another example. The entry on fruit trees is 13 pages long and covers all most important aspects connected with fruit trees.
I was also very surprised to see in respective sections the lists of vegetables, perennials and trees grouped by the specific environmental conditions they require. This makes the book very easy to use.

The subjects of organic gardening cover the complete information from the food crops to ornamental gardening.

Core entries fall into four categories:
- Gardening techniques: garden design, landscaping, planting, propagation, pruning and training, seed starting, seed saving.
- Organic garden management: animal pests, beneficial insects, compost, cover crops, fertilizers, mulch, pests, plant diseases and disorders, soil.
- Food crops: bramblers, edible landscaping, fruit trees, herbs, nut trees, vegetable gardening.
- Ornamental plants: annuals, biennials, bulbs, groundcovers, perennials, shrubs, trees.

The ratio between the amount of knowledge, tips and the price of the book is surprising. Especially if you think that there is no photos, just pure text. Instead of photos you will find here only few black and white drawings as essential illustration to some entries.

At the end of the book you will find The Glossary, Quick Reference Guide and Index.

My rating: 10 out of 10 stars

This book is one of the best gardening books ever – and for good reason. It’s a must read for those starting a garden or dreaming about English garden.

Get your copy of Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: The Indispensable Green Resource for Every Gardener Have you read any great gardening books? Give your recommendations with your reasons why in comments below. Looking forward to discovering some great gardening books.

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2009
Pages: 706
Available here: Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening: The Indispensable Green Resource for Every Gardener
ISBN-13 978-1-59486-916-7

October 30, 2014

7 Tips and 11 Photos of Scandinavian Style Interior Design

Years of admiration of Scandinavian style interior design happen when I was living in Sweden. Private homes or public spaces, didn’t matter, there was always something light and surprising.

One of my favorite blogs on vintage Scandinavian style interior design is Vita Ranunkler from Sweden.
Scandinavian vintage look is classic and gives warm feeling, because despite of colors they use in the interiors, they tend to include lots of lights, lamps and candles. Then the light colors they use in the interiors make it feel even lighter and warmer.

When  you lok at the photos (courtesy of Vita Ranunkler), pay attention to colors of the floor, walls and ceiling – this is an important part of the Scandinavian interior design. Posts on Vita Ranunkler are published often and always there is something to get inspired from.

I love unique style of Scandinavian shabby chic interiors. If in short I should make a summary here are my choice of:

7 tips on how to make your home look Scandinavian style interior design:

* De-clutter the interior make it as simple as possible.
* Place a fireplace in the corner and make it a focal point. Don’t hide. Make it a statement.
* Use lots of candles. Lamps should not give too  much ligh and don’t be scared to use many of them in one room.
* Keep the floors simple, wooden, don’t cover it with carpets. Scandinavians never did and still don’t like carpets.
* When it comes to color, stick to white, gray and bluish. Sometimes use light shades of pink.
* Use wood boldly and cover it with grey/white oil or paint to remove the yellow shades.
* Be eco-friendly and use vintage furniture and decoration materials.

Recommended further reading Scandinavian Design

October 27, 2014

Book Review: Sissinghurst. Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden

If enchantment by English gardens was ever part of your inspiration this book is definitely for you.  Vita Sackville-West, the British poet, together with her husband Harold, created the beauty of iconic British garden – Sissinghurst. Harold created the structure, Vita filled it with plantings. It doesn’t happen often that the garden outlives its creators, but today still Sissinghurst is one of the most visited and inspirational gardens in the world.

Sissinghurst is the garden that inspires many gardeners and garden designers. The book is packed with lots of information about how Sissinghurst was created, what challenges were faced and how they managed to turn weaknesses into strengths. You will find the detailed  descriptions how in the design they successfully camouflaged the exccentricities of the land, that today you can’t spot it. 

This is the book for everyone who was ever enchanted by the English gardens. 

“Sissingurst. Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden” is a selection of original articles published by Vita in gardening column in the Observer From 1946 to 1957 made by Sarah Raven, the co-author of the book, famous British gardener who is married to Vita's grandson Adam Nicolson. 

The book consists of 3 Parts:
- The People and the Place
- Vita’s Garden Themes
- The Smaller Canvas

What's important, this book consists of writings, not photos only. There are not too many colored photos of the garden, which is a plus, because you want to understand what is behind the photos, not just admire eye-candy. The author included enough amount of current photos to see its beauty, layouts and planting composition. There is many black and white historical photos of the palace and the gardens to see the work in progress.  

You could ask yourself if there is anything for you in the writings of a lady from over 50 years ago? I firmly confirm that you will find lots of tips and practical advice. Just to give you a sample of the writing: “Too severe formality is almost as repellant as lack of any” or “Eremurus which looks like a cathedral spire flushed warm in the sunset”.

You may also learn about Vita’s preferences not only about plants, but also about the renovation of Sissinghurst and her own possessions: “Vita allowed her possessions to age, skills to wear, wood to darken, terracotta to chip and fail. (…) Her possessions must grow old with her. She must be surrounded by evidence of time (…)”. 

What I find especially useful is the index of plants, shrubs and trees at the end of the book, very helpful in daily work, if I would like to get back and make sure about certain plants.  

My rating: 10 out of 10 stars

This book is one of the best gardening books ever – and for good reason. It’s a must read for those starting a garden or dreaming about English garden.

Get your copy of Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden

Have you read any great gardening books? Give your recommendations with your reasons why in comments below. Looking forward to discovering some great gardening books.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2014
Pages: 382
Available here: Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden
ISBN: 978-1-250-06005-1

October 22, 2014

3 Orchids that Look Like an Animal

Orchids produce some of the most beautiful and unique flowers in the world.  Recently, they have become one of the most common house plants you can buy and are available everywhere.  What most people don’t realize is just how many different Orchid species there are and how amazing they can be.

With over 20,000 Orchid species recognized today, you can’t even imagine some of the flowers they produce.  They can be small, medium, large, and in any colors but black and blue.  Some look like Tulips, while others look like Donkeys and Monkeys.  Orchids have adapted to become some of the most fascinating plants in the world.

Many Orchids have success in attracting insects to pollinate them by mimicking the other sex.  Fly Orchids, for example, produce flowers that look and smell like female flies.  This attracts the male flies to attempt to reproduce, spreading the pollen in the process.  They then move to the next flower and bring pollen that with them.

Donkey Orchids

These Orchids produces funny looking flowers that many people believe look like a donkey.  That’s how the Diuris Orchid got the nickname “Donkey Orchid”.  Growing mostly in Australia and Tasmania, this flower needs warm temperatures during the growing season.  During the winter, they go dormant and shrivel up to protect themselves from the cold.

The large Donkey-looking flowers grow on stems up to 3 feet high and typically stay together in clumps.  The 2 large lateral petals that create the look of donkey ears, are what attract bees to come pollinate the flower.  They flower between July and November, and the seeds mature in a matter of weeks after pollination. 

Monkey Face Orchids

The Dracula Simia Orchid has earned the nicknames “Monkey Orchid” and “Monkey Face Orchid” for obvious reasons.  The flowers they produce look just like the face of a Monkey.  These flowers grow in the mountains of Ecuador and are accustomed to cooler temperatures and high humidity.  The flowers are also said to be scented like ripe oranges to attract monkeys. 

These Orchids produce a large number of stems from the base of the plant.  Each stem produces one amazing flower.  These flowers can bloom at any time of the year which could lead to flowers throughout the entire year under perfect conditions.  These are one of the most unique Orchids that you will find.

Flying Duck Orchids

These are one of my personal favorite Orchids in the world.  The flowers they produce look just like a duck flying through the air.  These Orchids grow in Australia in warm climates that provide moist conditions.  You will find them in coastal and swampy areas, sometimes even at higher altitudes.
The flying duck flowers are very small and not noticeable in the wild unless you know what you are looking for.  The unique shape attracts insects, mainly sawflies, to come investigate and pollinate the flower.  The flowers grow on tall green stems, reaching 20 inches from the ground.

For more information on Orchids that look like animals click here

How to improve your ways on growing: Orchids For Dummies