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.

Providing fragrance is a function of plants and gardens that is important to human sensibilities, and good design will make the most of this potential.

Providing fragrance is a function of plants and gardens that is important to human sensibilities, and good design will make the most of this potential. The sweet fragrance of strategically placed summer phlox (Phlox paniculata), a native of eastern United States, is readily accessible in this July image.

Though native plants are sometimes considered appropriate only for informal design styles, there’s no reason for this. Style, and formality or informality, have more to do with management than with plant selection.

Ferns are among the most adaptable and durable possibilities for the herbaceous layer. Though many are deciduous, a few including marginal shield fern (Dryopteris marginalis) and Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) are fully evergreen. Two running species, hayscented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) and New York fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis), can be used to create highly durable herbaceous layers at a large or a relatively small scale. Ferns come about as close to being immune to deer damage as any group of native plants in eastern North America.

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The richly layered Riska-Dunson garden in Delaware is brimming with life yet is highly functional and profoundly livable.

The richly layered Riska-Dunson garden in Delaware is brimming with life yet is highly functional and profoundly livable.

What brings life to a landscape? Gardening is unique among the arts because its primary materials are literally alive, but are gardens merely beautiful arrangements of living objects?

A growing awareness of a broad range of environmental relationships suggests the traditional object-oriented approach to garden-making is unable to guide us in the design and care of landscapes that are genuinely sustainable. Informed by ecological science and cultural studies, we have an opportunity to adopt new ethics outlining a modern recipe for inclusive habitat: ethics that embrace the changing dynamics of our world while recognizing the need to protect and conserve what is vital and irreplaceable.

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Lederer_Burr_3DCover 300Latin for Bird Lovers uncovers the secrets behind more than 3,00 scientific names, delves into bird behavior, and reveals the fascinating discoveries of ornithologists. Here we take a look inside with author Dr. Roger Lederer.

More after the jump. Click images to enlarge.

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The power of a good teacher: Roger Lederer began as a student most interested in fish but, he says, “I had a great ornithology instructor and learned that birds were fascinating to me.” That instructor inspired what became a life-long passion and career.

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Author of The Plant Lover’s Guide to Dahlias, Andy Vernon shows us the dahlias in bloom at his home in England and shares his love for these spectacular flowers.

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In the spirit of experiential learning, a few of us from the Timber Press office headed out to Trillium Lake for an afternoon of foraging and bird-watching. Beside proper rain gear, we brought along several copies of Must-See Birds of the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Northwest Foraging. Do you sense a theme? That’s right, fun!

More after the jump.

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Black huckleberries are among the most popular berries in the Northwest, traditionally picked by Native Americans in firemanaged settings in the high mountains and now quite popular with harvesters from all backgrounds.

Black huckleberries are among the most popular berries in the Northwest, traditionally picked by Native Americans in firemanaged settings in the high mountains. Image: Nancy and Robert Turner

Pacific Northwest Foraging author Douglas Deur outlines a year of foraging

Each year, the natural landscape and the plants within it go through cycles of awakening and dormancy that inevitably guide the food harvest. The exact timing of these cycles varies between elevations and latitudes, with most seasonal changes occurring later, and in more compressed timeframes, as one moves upslope or northward within the region. The timing of these cycles also changes along with our climate, so that winters are generally becoming shorter and spring arrives earlier than was the case a generation or two ago. Still, it is possible to outline general seasonal patterns that characterize the entire Northwestern region.

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Martha Stewart was in Portland recently and caught up with her former head gardener and Living gardening editor, Andrew Beckman. For those of you who don’t know Andrew, he is now associate publisher and editorial director at Timber Press, and while he’s more comfortable in his garden than in the spotlight, we can’t help but share a bit about her visit with him. Martha was kind enough to allow us to post some of her pictures here and you can read her post on The Martha Blog.

More after the jump.

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Pruning will keep your plants from taking over, such as this old kiwi vine has done here.

Pruning will keep your plants from taking over, such as this old kiwi vine has done here.

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Pruning is a complex subject, but with guidance and care—and a tall ladder—anyone can do basic maintenance pruning. For starters, always prune a woody plant in this order: dead, damaged, diseased, deranged. After you have removed material in that order, look at your plant to decide if it needs further pruning for shape, size, fruit production, or aesthetic appeal. Three rules will protect your plants from wanton pruning.

More after the jump.

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From What’s Wrong With My Fruit Garden? by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth

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A fresh combination of snowdrops and aconites. Image: Naomi Slade

A fresh combination of snowdrops and aconites. Image: Naomi Slade

From The Plant Lover’s Guide to Snowdrops by Naomi Slade

In a garden setting, snowdrops always look loveliest when planted among congenial neighbours. When planning autumn-to-spring planting schemes, the trick is to treat it a bit like a relay race and include as much botanical joy as possible. As some plants give up the ghost, ensure that others are going strong and that new players are waiting in the wings ready to take over. Considered as part of a continuum, snowdrops are useful because they come into their own at the point where many plants are at their absolute nadir—when old foliage is flattened and brown and new leaves have not quite begun to break—so they are ideal for filling in gaps and bringing a sparkle to permanent structure.

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Salvia ‘Sally Greenwood,' a wonderful salvia to use for softening the edges of paving and pathways or among large rocks. Image: John Whittlesey

Salvia ‘Sally Greenwood,’ a wonderful salvia to use for softening the
edges of paving and pathways or among large rocks. Image: John Whittlesey

Designing with salvias opens a world of possibilities. Considering the wide diversity of plants in the genus Salvia, it is not difficult to find one or many salvias for any type of garden, in any climate zone. Their use in the landscape is as varied as the genus. Salvias are seen as groundcovers, as lively companions for roses, and as superb container plants. They are as comfortable in a formal perennial border as in a cottage garden setting, a formal herb garden, or a wildlife garden. Salvias can lend a lush tropical flavor or a lean, dry garden look. For every gardener and every gardening style, there is a multitude of salvias from which to choose.

Read on to discover some of the many ways to use salvias. More suggestions (along with 150 plant profiles) can be found in The Plant Lover’s Guide to Salvias by John Whittlesey.

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