May-June 2015 | GREEN WITH ENVY




Maryland author Barbara W. Ellis details eco-friendly strategies to empower you to create the garden of your dreams in "Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide”

Written By: Nick Brandi

Some say the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. The truth, however, is that it can be greener on your side, too, especially with the help of books like Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide by Barbara W. Ellis.

As a former managing editor of gardening books for Rodale Press and publications director at the American Horticultural Society, Ellis brings more than enough turf cred to the table to counsel not just backyard putterers but professional-grade field generals, too. Featuring principal photography by Neil Soderstrom, 
Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping is published in association with Adkins Arboretum in Ridgely, Md.

Its 384 pages are structured around fundamental principles that range from lawn reduction, building plant diversity and growing native plants to managing water runoff, welcoming wildlife and wise gardening. The author’s intention is that with the understanding of these six key subject areas, virtually anyone can wield the nimblest of green thumbs.

Also in the offing are detailed instructions for assessing and designing a garden or landscape site; selecting and nurturing trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers and flowers; and managing conditions such as shade or poor soil. Whether it’s a rain garden, woodland garden, meadow garden, wildlife garden or other type of garden you’re after, 
Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping is an eco-friendly — and bay-friendly — book that will show you what you need to know to really make it thrive.

And show you it does, with well over 300 glossy, full-color photographs that exquisitely depict what could eventually be the ripe and ample fruits of your labor. But for all its verdant horticultural splendor, the text isn’t afraid to take hostages. It cites, for example, commercial garden centers, chemical companies, petroleum-fueled-equipment companies and even the media as profit-motivated culprits in the promotion of products and procedures that may yield an aesthetically pleasing result but are ecologically toxic nonetheless.

Throughout the text, the reader is educated about native plants whose value arises not only in their individual aesthetic character but also their vital ecological function — such as providing food and shelter for wildlife and nectar for pollinators. The book also introduces the reader to many species of non-native plants that are neither invasive nor detrimental to the environment.

By the time you’ve finished reading this comprehensive guide you’ll be empowered to: design and build your own Chesapeake-oriented or other landscape; know which trees and shrubs to plant for shade; make a garden home for hummingbirds, caterpillars and butterflies; manage your floral color palette in the spring, summer and fall; and use your property’s roof, driveway, walkway and other hard surfaces to make beautiful rain gardens that both conserve water and prevent erosion, as well as many other nuggets of horticultural knowledge.

Ultimately, the mission of Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping is to create not just new and better gardeners and landscapers but rather new and better green gardeners and landscapers. For that and more, it should be commended. So, for those who are of a mind to create mini-Edens for themselves or others in an ecologically responsible way, Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping is more than your garden variety gardening book.

Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping: 
The Essential Green Guide
By Barbara W. Ellis

Paperback: 384 pages 
University of North Carolina Press (2015)

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