22 February 2011

The official "I wrote a book and it's in stores now" post

As many people who hang around with me on Facebook, Twitter, or in real life know, last year one of my projects was to write a book for Nimbus Publishing of Halifax. That book, Plants for Atlantic Gardens, is in stores now throughout the region, including independent local stores like The Box of Delights in Wolfville, on Amazon.ca, and will be in the US in a couple of months time. Hopefully, it will inspire you enough that you'll want to buy it. But you could also win a book...keep reading for the details.

I've been hugely delighted with the responses by reviewers so far, all of whom seem to be very pleased with the book and think it's a useful thing. Which is, of course, why I wrote it. Living where we do, in Atlantic Canada, we have a variety of gardening challenges, from clay soil to acid soil to cool springs to lots of wind off the water (salt damage) to coolish summers to downright cold winters. And while there are hundreds or thousands of books on gardening out there, there hasn't been one that is focused primarily on our region, or more specifically, primarily on ornamental gardening. There are several good books on food growing, more than several on the botany of the region, and a couple of real beauties on native wildflowers.

So after consulting with some of my gardening friends, who include seasoned gardeners, nursery operators (many of whom are in the sidebar on the left of this post), and general plant geeks, and with huge help from my wonderful editor at Nimbus, I came up with what I thought would be a good format. The book profiles 109 genera of plants divided into two sections: shrubs and trees, and perennials. Each plant profile gives some practical gardening advice on zone hardiness, where to plant, bloom period, size, and notes about what makes the plant particularly appealing: traits such as attracting pollinators, good winter interest, good fall colour, deer resistance, those sorts of things that are always handy to know. We like plants that give us more bang for our buck, after all.
There are a few specialized sections, including one on alpines, just so I could include the glorious blue of a springflowering gentian (not a plant profiled in the book because some of them can be quite tricky.

Wherever possible, I included some anecdotes as well as wisdom shared by other gardeners, and I also provided all the photography.

This book came about in no small part because of the scads of knowledge I've learned from fellow gardeners, both locally and across the blogosphere, over the past mumblety-mumble years of being fascinated with plants. I've said this before, and will say it again--gardeners are some of the most fabulous, generous, funny and wise people in the world, sharing their wisdom and suggestions as readily as they do their seedlings, transplants, and seeds. That's one of the reasons I find gardening such a joy, especially in a world that is sometimes dark and frightening.

I dedicated this book to the best plantsman I ever had the privilege to know, the late Captain Dick Steele of Bayport Plant Farm, who was a huge and positive influence in my plant-obsessed life, and continues to inspire me even now.
The official launch of Plants for Atlantic Gardens is on this coming Saturday, February 26th, 2-4 pm at the Telegraph Tea Room in Melvern Square, just outside of Kingston-Greenwood. We'll have some tea and treats, The Inside Story in Greenwood will be selling books, and we'll swap stories while I sign copies for people. If you can't get there, don't worry...I am selling the book through my blog, (it costs a bit more because of postage, but I will personalize it) or you can catch up with me at one of my other events; I'll be around here, there and everywhere in coming months, and look forward to swapping lots of stories with other gardeners.

During my anniversary post celebrating 5 years of writing this blog, I announced a giveaway of a copy of this book: the winning name was Carol Blunden, and her book is on the way to her. But since we're celebrating the launch of this book, I figure I should give away another copy, so please leave a comment telling me what your most FRUSTRATING plant is to grow. Doesn't matter where you live, or if it's a vegetable, a native, a houseplant, a tree...we all have our frustrations, as well as our triumphs. (I've learned to mostly laugh at mine. Even the goutweed). I'll do a random draw early next week (not doing another post til after the book launch because it's a bit busy here) and announce the winner.

Thank you to everyone for your support, your wisdom, your humour and patience, your generosity in sharing plants and knowledge and so much more over the years...truly, I couldn't have done this without the community of gardeners.


  1. Congratulations...that is quite an accomplishment!

  2. With pen on fire crafting anecdotes and wisdom plus passion for gardening and your beautiful Nova Scotia, this book and your fine photos will be a treasure. (I hate goutweed too!)

  3. Most frustrating plant? Definitely morning glories! I've tried them in pots, in the ground, from seed and from nursery plants. Best year I got three flowers. Worst year(s) I got puny, unhappy plants that never got above 6 inches tall. Visions of a cloud of Heavenly Blue gave way to the reality of unhappy plants. Too much wind? Too crowded in the pot? Wrong soil? The stars misaligned?

    The rest of the garden burbles along with lush and cheerful plants. But there you go. The failures keep me humble and respectful of nature!

  4. Congratulations on your book! How exciting. My most frustrating plant to grow is Dill. It's impossible in my garden!!

  5. This is so exciting! I can't imagine the work that must have gone into writing a book, but it must be great to see the finished product. I hope it's very successful.
    My most frustrating plant are Delphiniums. I want drifts of them in my garden, but the most I might get is one flower stalk that either the slugs chew down or the wind blows over. I'm still going to try starting some from seed this year. I'm not ready to give up.

  6. Jodi continued congrats and well deserved...your book is ordered and awaiting delivery in the US thru Amazon...can't wait to read it....

  7. Congratulations Jodi. It looks like a beautiful book from the outside I know the inside is marvelous.

    My worst plant to try to grow and most wanted in my shade garden are the pulmonarias. I have tried several different types and they all give up way too easily in my opinion. One of these days I hope to find one that will tolerate my space.

  8. Hi Jodi,

    One of my most frustrating plants are Sweet Peas. I managed to get some seed to germinate last spring, but once I transplanted them - they did nothing. Of course, the chickens and goats that are my husbands hobby didn't help, but even the ones that remained in the soil didn't grow any more.
    I am looking forward to picking up your book. I am a Master Gardener and often do "Ask a Master Gardener" sessions here and there and one of the most often asked questions is - what can I grow under these conditions? Your book sounds like a great addition to mt go to library for just such occassions.

    Thanks again,

    A Buck

  9. Congratulations, Jodi! This looks like such a helpful book for gardeners in your region, but I'm sure gardeners all over would enjoy this as well. The photography and layouts are very appealing.

    I've been out of the blogosphere, so to speak, for the past week or more while babysitting grandchildren, so I missed your anniversary post. Congratulations to Carol; I'd love to put my name in the hat for this giveaway, too. As for my most frustrating plant, it has to be astilbe. I love the look of the airy plumes on them, yet I can't manage to keep them alive. Perhaps it's the tall water-grubbing spruce growing nearby.

    Love the cover of your book!

  10. Dear Jodi, Your book looks to have something for everyone who is a plant lover, whether they happen to live in your area or not. I do so hope that it will prove to be enormously successful for you as you clearly have worked terribly hard to produce it with such careful attention to detail and with all the required photographs.

    Please do not include me in any draw as I shall purchase my own copy by some means or another!

  11. Hi everyone, and thanks for your comments!
    Scott; thankfully, it was mostly a pleasure to do, and I got to talk to plenty of others in my quest for more information.
    Joey: We need a society to rid the world of goutweed, don't we?
    Rachel? Morning glories can be an exasperation. It's important not to overfertilize them, because they'll produce lots of leaves and few flowers, but also, they aren't real keen on container growing. Even when you buy the container planted ones from greenhouses, I find they languish if left in the pot, and definitely sulk for weeks if transplanted. The best results I've had was to cut the bottom out of the pot and then sink it into the ground. But also, as you note, we have some challenge with wind and fog and lack of heat units on the shore, whereas just a few km away, people get more heat, less fog, and their plants do splendidly.

    Meems; Interesting that your challenge is dill, which many find quite weedy. I wonder if there isn't some swallowtail butterfly dining on it in its caterpillar form, as some of them love the umbellifers.

  12. Congratulations, Jodi! What a beautiful and practical book. I love your photography and down to earth way of writing. My most frustrating plant ever was (and I say "was" because after of 10 years of grappling with it, I finally removed it) the common lilac, which you see on every roadside and in almost every yard around here in southern Connecticut. I feel like I am a pretty darn good gardener, and I have mostly had lots of success, but this bleepin' lilac really tested me and my patience. For some reason, it only gave me a handful of stingy blooms each year, and some years, it gave me none. I asked every plant loving friend, every nursery professional and every person I met who had one growing in their yard what the problem was and no one could figure it out. I tried every suggestion, to no avail. Finally, I just decided it was a "dud" and got rid of it and put a beautiful 'Snowflake' Viburnum in, and now I enjoy white lacecap like flowerheads all summer long. It's hard to admit defeat though...but that lilac certainly beat me up completely! Good luck with your gorgeous book!
    Cindy - Garden by the Sound

  13. Kudos on the book. I look forward to picking up a copy to help with the adjustment to gardening in a new region of the country.

    The most frustrating plant for me was squash last year. The frustration was not from a lack of yield, but an inability to consume the yield as the Ottawa squirrels destroyed every squash that was remotely consumable. Argh!

  14. Catherine: Is it very hot in the summers where you are? Delphinium do just fine for me in my cool summer, despite the annual delphinium and peony wind and rainstorms that invariably happen when the plants are in full bloom. I do know that delphinium don't like really hot, humid weather, although it seems to me there's a new strain being developed that is meant to address that. Good for you for not giving up. You sound like me with yellow hollyhocks.
    Donna, thanks for your kind words! I hope you'll enjoy the book and find it hugely useful.
    Lisa, pulmonarias? That's really intriguing. Is it the summer heat that takes them out? They should do fine in the spring, but sometimes get ratty in the summer. Some people have a lot of problem with powdery mildew; cutting off and destroying the affected leaves should produce a flush of fresh growth. But I'm intrigued, and will investigate further.

  15. A Buck, oh I can so relate to sweet peas! Yet I have friends who do splendidly with them. I simply don't bother with them anymore. But hopefully my gardening buddy Brenda Franklin will read the comments and have some advice...

    Rose, thank you, and I hope you had splendid time with your grandchildren. Astilbes definitely can be tricky (I wonder if it's a bit too hot where you are in the summer?) They need moist soil, and in my climate they can take full sun IF the soil is consistently moist, so they do really well here. But for most, it's shade, moisture, and mulch the dickens out of them to keep the soil cool and moist. They will go dormant in hot weather, for many people. Good luck with this draw!

    Dear Edith, Thank you so much for your kind and supportive words. That's very sweet of you to want to purchase the book. (Authors love to hear such words...)
    Cindy, thank you so much...I know of others who have had huge, huge challenges with lilacs (so much so that there's a section called "why won't it bloom' in the profile of lilacs in my book. But you know what, I'd rather have that Snowflake Viburnum too--a magnificent choice.

    Aubrie, thank you for your comments. I don't grow veg except for tomatoes and herbs (in the greenhouse) because of the lack of heat units and time constraints here--I'm surrounded by farmers, so I support them, and just grow mostly pretty plants. But I hear you on the squirrels. Last time I was in Ottawa (and in Montreal) I was fascinated, yet slightly daunted, by their numbers. They're like living goutweed!

  16. Jodi:
    Heartfelt congratulations on the recent publication of your treasure! I have instructed our local bookseller to bring it in as I intend to use it as a Book of the Month Selection for our local Hort Society. Many of the plants will do just fine in my neck of the woods. I will be in touch at a later date for an interview perhaps as I also edit their newsletter.

    Now on to the question, and you can guess where I am going with this.... oh wueen of the sky blue hearts.....
    it's of course the Meconopsis. Being an ardent fan of Zonal Denial, I shall never give up. I managed to keep three tiny seedlings alive last year, so we will have to see, but I've also ordered in M.betonicifolia and M. grandis for the garden centre [well, really for me!] this year! Perhaps your next book..... congrats my friend!

  17. Jodi, I so wish I could be at the Tea Room with you on Saturday. I can't wait to see this beautiful book and am looking forward to a yet another...no pressure ;-)

    So far, my biggest failure here has been Scotch and/or Irish Moss that I keep trying in my rock walkways. Both sides of the house in varying conditions, no matter, it has failed miserably. I'm going to go back to creeping thyme, I guess.

    All the best, my dear friend.

  18. so cool Jodi! Publishing books are MAJOR cause for celebration, more so than giving birth I think. But I've never given birth, and thankfully never will. My most frustrating plant should be an easy one to grow--bottle gentian. I keep buying, and they keep vanishing.

  19. congatulations on your book lanch, your book sounds as if it could be just what I need this side of the atlantic,
    Monarda is my most frustrating plant, I visulised them flowing across the meadow area but nothing, even tried the last ones I bought in pots until they were bigger ~ nothing, trying to decide just now if I should try again or just accept they don't like my garden, Frances

  20. Congratulations Jodi!!!! Your book looks fabulous, useful, and generally great to keep on hand for current and future reference! Sheesh, you just HAD to ask about the most difficult plant to grow, didn't you? I have a list an arm long, and of course they're all supposed to be easy! Meanwhile, of course, the "hard" ones grow like weeds! But to just pick one, I guess it would be plums. For whatever reason, no matter how many times I plant them, they keep eluding me. Again, congrats!!!

  21. Hi Jodi !
    I...like many of your followers Congratulate you on sharing your knowledge & the hard work towards publishing this oh so fine book. in which I will be sure to get my copy...I do wish you much 'Success' with it's sales & feel it will be a treasured resourceful gardener's addition to especially us 'Maritimers'!! I do share your despise for goutweed & have come to the conclusion it will be one of those never-ending battles, along with certain bugs, which will just be part of the weekly search & destroy during the gardening months !~ I must admit that I've had pretty good success with most things I've grown as I'm careful to learn as much as I can about each plant before I buy it & plant it...the only 2 in which became duds for me were the black lace shrub & the sea holly, which was totally my fault as I planted them in too hot of a place next to the greenhouse...where the sun simply fried the little buggers ! but I am pleased to say I finally purchased my long awaited additions to my garden (ornamental poppies in white, pink & purple) which are presently sleeping in my vegetable garden...waiting to be re-planted in the spring. I often come across end of season sales in late fall so the vegetable plot is a great place to quickly secure them until I can find the perfect spot next season...Best of Luck with the book & hope to see lots of them selling off the shelf...well after I get my copy first !!~

  22. Congratulations Jodi ;) Its amazing that you get to do what you love and (hopefully) get paid for it! Color me happy for you (but a little jealous)!

  23. Buck and sweet peas...sadly the link is Anonymous so can't really reply to that. Thanks Jodi for your kind words.

    A sweet pea blog post in the making...mmm..."what I have learned" ))). Mostly, it just depends on the garden year it seems..but I am faithful to using innoculent. That makes a huge difference I find and keeping them well watered and fertilized. GB advice))

  24. Azeleas, we can't grow them to save our souls, but we keep trying.

  25. Congratulations, Jodi! I'm glad to hear your book is getting such good reviews.

  26. I am delighted for you, Jodi.

    My husband is the gardener in this household. What he is having trouble with is his bee balm. It was doing great but the last couple of years it started thinning out and getting spindly and he doesn't know why.

    We are looking forward to meeting you at your March 5th book signing.

  27. Congrats Jodi! I hope you are planning a stop on the South Shore?

    I have been frustrated by many plants...my current (seasonal) frustration are hollyhocks. I had no problem growing them in Ontario, but here in NS all I get are brown spots and withering. I love these old fashioned plants, and hope to get some healthy specimens sometime.

  28. Onions. They never work out for me. I don't seem to have issues with flowers. We'll see when I start gardening here in NS.

  29. For some reason I just cannot grow Poppies! Have had zero luck with them. Don't add me to the drawing...I've got my review copy (!) and will write a review soon;-) I love it, by the way.

  30. CONGRATULATIONS dear Jodi!!!!

    Can you hear the champagne cork popping?

    Toast to you and your lovely new book.


    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

    P.S. Maybe you'll journey down to Maine?

  31. Congrats - great book, can't wait to get my hands on a copy. My most frustrating plant grows by itself.... yes, goutweed. Under the tree, through the fence, up through newly laid sod... sigh. Makes everything I plant difficult to find in the Spring!

  32. Congratulations, Jodi! My most frustrating plant to (not) grow is Achillea. For some mysterious reason, I've never been able to get this plant established in my garden -- even though my conditions should, theoretically, be perfect for it. What makes it particularly frustrating is that, as I'm failing to grow fancy cultivars in my garden, wild yarrow is coming up in the gravel in my driveway! -Jean

  33. Congratulations Jodi!!
    Have you considered to launch your book at our 2011 Canada Blooms Garden Festival in Toronto?
    - Cheers Gisela.

  34. Congratulations Jodi, the book looks gorgeous, love the fact that you did your own photography too! I have been following your blog for about 4 years and love it, I have your first book(hubby actually gave it to me for Christmas one year, I was shocked and pleased, this was before I knew about you) and even brought it to get you to sign it and forgot it in the car, the hubby dropped me off at Blomidon Inn one Sat when you were there for a tour. Oh well, I hope to see you again sometime.
    My most frustrating plant is the yellow wax bells, I have had it for 9 years or so, moved it thinking it might help but still no bells!!!

  35. I tried for 3 years to get delphiniums (delphinia?) to grow. Had a bit of success, but they don't seem to like my acidic soil. Goutweed, on the other hand, loves my soil! Speaking of which - what do you think of this strategy - barricading my yard with bamboo barrier to get control over goutweed. Dig out the weed from beds, 1 bed at a time, install barrier, move on to the next patch...

  36. LUPINES!!! I live in London, Ontario and have decided that after several years of failure with growing lupines that I'm going to move to PEI just so I can successfully grow lupines. Well, that's not the only reason I'm moving to PEI, but it's one of them lol!

  37. Congrats congrats, congrats. And this is the official " we are all so proud of you" comment. I kind of feel like a good friend has accomplished this, and am so happy for you.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  38. Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations!! :-)

  39. Congratulations on the book. I can't wait to get copies for Mom and myself. Most frustrating plant to grow - sedium. It comes up looking strong and healthy every year but then bends over and dies from the top down. Will keep trying.

  40. Jodi~~ I have my review posted on my blog with a link back to your blog. I love this book.

  41. and what a smashing review Grace did! I want this book for real...I can't narrow down my growing frustations to just one plant right now. What does intrigue me though, is the size of some of the hosta's I see on blogs and around town...mine grow, just not ginormous....maybe mine aren't old enough yet, hmmmm. Congratulations Jodi! Your hardwork as paid off.

  42. Congratulations, Jodi. The book looks beautiful and the reviews have been great reads. I hope you let yourself float on air for a while...

  43. Congratulations! Will definitely pick up a copy!

  44. Many congratulations on the publication of your book Jod. You must be over the moon :)

  45. Jodi, I am new to Blotanical and just found your site- Beautiful photography!

    My most frustrating plant is actually a pretty common one- plain old green ivy (Hedera helix). The site is the problem. A very steep hill with erosion. Of the all the wonderful garden feats I have mastered, just covering this sun-less hill so we could stop having to mow turf on it has been the worst!

    Thanks so much, Julie


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