Our mission is to share the wonders of the natural world by publishing books from experts in the fields of gardening, horticulture, and natural history. Grow with us.

A seaside buffer is provided by an outer row of shrubs with a mixed ornamental border on the inside. Image: Andrew Buchanan

While landscaping for privacy can shield your yard from neighbors, reduce noise, or hide an eyesore, it can also provide protection. In this post, Marty Wingate offers advice on how to contend with two common environmental intrusions, wind and salt.

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Don’t just buy a generic bouquet of roses—make your Valentine’s gift of fresh flowers really mean something! By following the Victorian meaning of flowers, you can send a truly modern message of love.

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Download. Print. Cut. Voilà. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Design: Marla Sidrow

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“I like to think of it as the summer I grew the world and ate it.”

That’s Marie Iannotti describing what it was like to do the hands-on research for her book, The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables. “Growing wonderfully satisfying food is the main point of vegetable gardening,” she writes. “Homegrown heirloom vegetables can be so beautiful and delicious that it seems you could simply inhale them, and many vegetables never make it all the way from the garden to the kitchen.”

But what exactly is a heirloom vegetable and how do you get started growing them? In the following excerpt, Iannotti answers those questions as well as provides her top 10 heirloom vegetable picks.

“Delicious, and deliciously dirt-filled.” —Dominique Browning, New York Times

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Which would you rather have: a front lawn, or flowers and food? Photo: Saxon Holt

Which would you rather have: a front lawn, or flowers and food? Photo: Saxon Holt

When designing your no-mow yard, Evelyen Hadden, author of Beautiful No-Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives, writes that each choice “should be based not only on your aesthetics or comfort but also on the natural processes and character of your site.” The following are five things to consider when contemplating replacing your lawn with a now-mow yard.

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‘Cherokee Purple’ does not turn completely purple, but its excellent smoky flavor is consistent.

‘Cherokee Purple’ does not turn completely purple, but its excellent smoky flavor is consistent.

‘Brandywine’ gets all the press, but most tomato gardeners I know are rhapsodic about ‘Cherokee Purple’. The dusky colored fruits are a beefsteak size with small seeds, and they are usually a nicely uniform, round shape. They grow well in most climates. The shoulders of the tomato have a tendency to stay green, which is true of several heirloom varieties, but this does not affect their unique, delectable richness. The vines are indeterminate, though not particularly tall, and produce baseball-sized tomatoes. ‘Cherokee Purple’ is believed to have originated with the Cherokee people and has been known and grown since at least 1890. Unfortunately, the romance of heirloom vegetables often makes the validity of their stories questionable.

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Marta McDowell, author of Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, tells us, “Beatrix Potter was a late bloomer, gardening-wise.” She was forty years old before she had her first season as a gardener. Her interest in the natural world, however, began long before that. In the following excerpt, learn about the beginnings of what proved to be Potter’s greatest inspiration.

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An enchanting and original account of Beatrix Potter’s life and her love of plants and gardening.—Judy Taylor, vice president of The Beatrix Potter Society

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Annual black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) are a staple of my summer garden. Their pollen and nectar attract syrphid flies, tachinid flies, solder beetles, and certain parasitic wasps.

Annual black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) are a staple of my summer garden. Their pollen and nectar attract syrphid flies, tachinid flies, solder beetles, and certain parasitic wasps.

Jessica Walliser is just like you. Except she likes bugs. Like may even be an understatement. But it wasn’t always that way. “I am a former bug hater,” she writes in her book, Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden. In the following six confessions, she details her journey from pesticide-loving bug hater to organic gardener and a leading advocate of the natural approach to pest control.

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What on Earth have plants been doing for us? Everything! It’s true, humans would not exist without plants. “Plants have always been, and always will be, the only renewable, sustainable supply of all our needs,” writes Timothy Walker, author of Plant Conservation: Why It Matters and How It Works.

It’s tempting to think of plants as self-sufficient, but like all living things, they are part of larger, often fragile, natural systems. And while we may wax romantic about whales and polar bears, our efforts to conserve the natural world should begin with plants. Plant Conservation explains why it matters and how it works.

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walker_t-sTimothy Walker has been director of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden since 1988. He studied botany at Oxford and was awarded a Master of Horticulture by the RHS. Walker is a member of the group of conservation biologists helping to develop the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and has lectured widely to the public, nationally and regionally.

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Plant Conservation treats a critical topic in an accessible and optimistic way. It is required reading for students, professionals, and anyone with a keen interest in the importance of plants.

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Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's home. Potter coordinated interior design with the gardens outside, including hanging landscapes, using peach tones in the sitting room, and daisy-patterned patterned wallpaper in her bedroom.

Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s home in the Lake District of England. Potter coordinated interior design with the gardens outside, including hanging landscapes, using peach tones in the sitting room, and putting up daisy-patterned wallpaper in her bedroom.

Beatrix Potter was an author, businesswoman, and conservationist. She was also a gardener. This part of her life, often a direct inspiration for her work, has been neglected by historians. Until now. Author Marta McDowell shares here some of what she discovered while writing Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, a book Deborah Needleman calls “a biography written through plants.”

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