Favorite Hudson Valley Garden Books and Writers
There are quite a few local garden writers whose books I have enjoyed. I love not only reading about their gardens, but also knowing that I can generally apply what they are saying directly to my own garden. A few favorites include:
-Cassandra Danz (also known as Mrs. Greenthumbs). I was very sad to hear that she died a couple of years ago. She gardened in Hudson. Her books are funny, lighthearted, and full of great advice for upstate NY gardens. Two things that really stuck with me that she writes about are the absolute need for fences and walls to not only frame a garden, but to make it a personal, private space for the gardener. She feels that americans don't understand this very important element because we're all afraid we'll insult out neighbors. Also, she wrote about weeding by just repeatedly cutting the weeds off at their roots instead of pulling them out altogether - eventually the weeds will give up - and it makes weeding a much more pleasant chore. I apply this to my own garden and have to say it's true.
-Lee Reich - he's from New Paltz and most of his books are straight out, kind of dry, how-to books - on pruning, fruit trees, no dig gardens (he's a big booster of the no dig methods - something that all of us with rocky soil can appreciate and which I've used with great success), but he also wrote a book entitled "A Year in My Garden" which I found to be quite lovely and readable and which felt like a neighbor was giving me great advice over the fence.
-Patricia Thorpe - American Weekend Gardens and The American Cottage Garden. I believe she's also from Hudson. I would especially recommend her weekend garden book. Big coffee table books with lovely photos and lots of great ideas about simplifying your garden. She talks a lot about plants that are long lived and take very little care (she's a big booster of peonies and oriental poppies, for instance). She also writes a lot about adjusting our expectations - because most american gardeners have been so influenced by the British ideal of the perennial border and the cottage garden - and our weather (except in the Northwest) is so different from the British Isles - she feels that we need to look at gardening in a different light - adjust it for our climate and time frame. She's very sensible and very knowledgeable and she really comes at gardening from an unusual perspective.
Diane Ackerman - Cultivating Delight. My very, very, very favorite book on gardening. She's not a professional gardener - she's a poet and a naturalist and has written several other wonderful books off the topic of gardening. But this book is about her garden in Ithaca and it is so inspirational and beautifully written. Funny and smart and sexy and quirky. She writes about her hundreds of rose bushes (she's a huge fan of David Austin roses). She writes about catching the squirrels in her garden and tagging them with beaded necklaces for a study she did for National Geographic. She writes about feeding the starving deer in the winter. About picking up plants at the local greenmarket. About the sadness she feels after a nest of wrens mysteriously dissapears overnight and their nest is knocked to the ground. She is a wonderful writer who loves her garden. She has a naturalist's eye and a poet's voice. I re-read this book a couple times a year for inspiration.
So, those are a few of my personal favorites. Anyone know of some others?