Friday, July 19, 2013

Garden Book Reviews July 2013

Today is the day for Garden Book Reviews!  And I am going to review a smorgasbord of books that most people would not consider garden books!

Let me explain!

You see, for most of my life, I liked very few vegetables.  But then, I started reading.  And suddenly, roses just weren't enough.  I wanted to grow vegetables, too.

Hale's melon (cantaloupe)

The book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, was the biggest catalyst in changing the way I eat, buy vegetables, and look at food.  She promotes eating locally, either through growing your own vegetables, or buying from a local farmers market.  She preserves the local bounty in various ways in order to have food throughout the entire year.  For me, it was a totally new way of looking at eating, and the way in which I still aspire to eat.  It was because of this book that I started growing vegetables.

Summer Squash

Later on, I read How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr.  I was intrigued.  He endorses a oil-free, dairy-free, meat-free diet.  Basically, vegetables and whole wheat breads and pasta.  But the results he has achieved are incredible!  He proved that, not only does eating this way prevent heart disease, but it actually reverses it!  It made me see the value of eating vegetables for our health.  In fact, his research was so convincing, I started eating (and growing) even more vegetables after reading his book, and cut way down on my use of meat and oil.

Tomato blooms

After reading Dr. Esselstyn's book, I read The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health by Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II.  Drs. Campbell also endorse eating a oil-free, dairy-free, and meat-free diet, based upon years of study and research.  They call it a whole foods, plant based diet.  To put it simply: Eat plants.

Can't get any simpler than that!

Squash blossom

Now, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, with Dr. Howard Jacobson, has come out with a new book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, which is a follow-up to The China Study.  This is the book I've been reading lately.  Personally, I don't like it as much as The China Study.  However, my sister found Whole so intriguing that while she was visiting, she would pick it up every time I left the room.  Whole is less of a how-to or why-to book than a look at the entire nutritional system, and the science behind all the studies.  I believe Dr. Campbell wrote this book because the message about all the benefits we get from eating vegetables was not loud enough to be heard over all the other conflicting diets and ways of eating.  He believes that if the public could understand why studies are conflicting, they would understand why there are so many unhealthy, yet so-called "healthy", ways to eat.  He wants you to know how good vegetables really are for you.


Perhaps it seems I have to keep reading books that remind me to eat my veggies in order for me to be excited about eating veggies!  But that excitement about eating vegetables turns into excitement about growing vegetables. 

So, even though these books are really food books, not garden books, they have each inspired me to have my own vegetable garden.  Everyone has a different reason to grow vegetables.  For me, it was the health aspect that was the catalyst.

You may not want to eat a whole foods, plant based diet.  I have to admit that I cheat way too much to say that I do.  However, these books have inspired me.  Without reading these books, I probably wouldn't have a vegetable garden.  So, hopefully, one or more of these books will be inspiration for you to grow vegetables, too.

Now it's your turn!  Please join us on the 20th of every month for your own Garden Book Review.  Any book with a gardening influence qualifies.  And as always, please take the time to visit the other participants.  I've found some fabulous books from other's recommendations.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole

This is my Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post, even though I know it's late.

Purple coneflowers
These have been so pretty in my garden this year, I purchased more.
The butterflies love them, and they bloom in very hot weather.

"I'm late, I'm late
For a very important date
No time to say Hello, Goodbye
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!"*

Things have been a bit odd around here.  For instance, I woke up one night and there were 30 cows in my yard.  And that's been the least of my worries.

I have several lantana and they all bloom well in extreme heat.
Mine have also returned for me every year so far.

"Curiouser and curiouser."*

My parents crawled under their house and got stuck!

Yes, you read that right!

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
Aren't these the most beautiful, delicate looking flowers?
But what they lack in durability they make up for in abundance.

"I can't explain myself, I'm afraid sir, 
because I'm not myself you see."*

I've been on a few trips, I've had lots of company, and more company and more trips are scheduled.

Hosta bloom
My hostas have grown quite large this year.
It's so exciting to think that eventually this area will be completely green, with no soil showing underneath.

"Now, I give you fair warning, either you or your head must be off,
and that in about half no time!  Take your choice!"*

I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland.

Iceberg rose

Christopher Marlowe rose
The roses are blooming sporadically.  They are real workhorses in my garden!

"My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place.  
And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that."*

My flower beds are very weedy.  The pile of mulch that I never got around to spreading out in the flowerbeds is now beginning to compost.  And the vegetable garden is history.  No vegetables.  Just weeds.

Cannas love our heat!
 Their foliage is beautiful, but I also love their bright flowers.

"That was a very sad story."
"Aye, but there's a moral to it."
"Oh, a very good moral, if you happen to be an oyster."*

I had no idea that June and July would be so crazy.  And even crazier still is that I don't see an end in sight.  Nothing bad, just life itself.

Chaste tree (Vitex)
It's amazing to me how many pollinators this attracts!

"How puzzling all these changes are! 
 I'm never sure what I'm going to be, from one minute to another."*

But one thing I know about gardens.  They will still be there when we come back to them.  Gardens can wait.  People are more important.

The crape myrtles are in full bloom.

Black Diamond 'Ebony Glow' crape myrtle.
Ebony Glow is new to me.
I was enticed by those beautiful black leaves paired with the innocent blush of white/pink blooms.
Now I just need to find time to plant it!

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here.  I'm mad.  You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, or you wouldn't have come here."* 

So please forgive me for extended absences.  If you are wondering, I do want to continue with the Garden Book meme on the 20th of every month, and hope you will join in.

Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum')
Too bad this grass is an annual here.

"One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter."*

I predict it will be a few more months before I emerge from this rabbit hole.  For now, I'm just going to enjoy my garden's blooms when I see them, not worry about weeds, post and comment when I can, and wait for things to settle down, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later.

I know most people's lives get a bit crazy at times, so I expect you'll understand.

I'm waiting for the Moonflower vines (Ipomoea alba) to bloom!
Moonflowers can be controlled here, unlike morning glories (Ipomoea violacea), which can become invasive.
Moonflowers are easily grown from seed, if you nick them and soak them in water first.

"Some say to survive it you need to be as mad as a hatter.  
Which luckily I am."*

* All quotes are from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 
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