Enter Katherine Whiteside. In her recent book, The Way We Garden Now, Katherine takes us back to basics, and reminds us that gardening is meant to be "energizing, inspiring, edible and fun"— not stress-creating and body-aching. She lays out her mantra right from the opening preface.
"This is not your mom’s garden book. Nothing against your mom, but just as we have changed the way we arrange our homes, do our work, cook our meals, imagine our families, get our exercise and spend our spare time, we nesters have changed the way America gardens. The unattainable goal of ‘perfection’ is a relic of the past, and I am here to yell ‘Whoopee!’"
This gardener is yelling "whoopee!" right along with Whiteside. This is not a book of projects that must ALL be completed in order for you to have a paradise in your yard. Rather, as the cover suggests, these are pick-and-choose projects that you can do as you wish — or not at all. But as you read through each chapter, you’re going to find yourself tempted to try many of the projects for yourself.
Why? Because Whiteside is a smart writer and gardener.
At the beginning of each chapter, she answers the question, "What’s the Payoff?" After all, if we’re going to take on a project, whether it’s creating a gardening journal or building our first compost pile, it’s always a good idea to know why we’re launching into this. And Whiteside’s payoff reasons are smart; these are not projects to give ourselves more to do (or more to feel guilty about not doing), but practical, delightful and even fun to begin — and accomplish.
The Way We Garden Now is divided into five sections, each with a catchy title to encourage the reader. First we begin, of course, with the basics, including simplifying and organizing our tool collection (Don’t be a tool fool) and learning the essentials of bed building, fertility, and dealing with both nice garden visitors (birds) and those that are less welcome (weeds, bugs and deer). Next, we foray into the world of garden design. Don’t worry if you always figured garden design was only for professionals. Whiteside tells us "The One Big Design Secret" and presents us with a range of design projects that enhance a yard without overwhelming the gardener/labourer.
Of course, the best part of a garden is choosing the plants and here the author doesn’t disappoint either, giving some excellent suggestions for all kinds of ornamentals. For those who crave produce straight from their own gardens, there’s an entire section devoted to edibles, (including some delectable recipes using those home grown veggies). The final section is entitled "Keep on Going and Never Stop Growing", which is a celebration of the four seasons of gardening.
You didn’t think there were four seasons? Whatever do you call winter, if not the season of dream-gardening? I know that many of you are nodding, understanding that perfectly well; hopefully we're enticing others of you to think the same way about winter, as the snow blows around your dooryard and the wind whispers seductive songs down your chimney.