'Van Gogh' sunflower. I got the seeds from Renee's Seeds. She sent them to me to try. I like them.
I feel a post percolating about the fires and rebirth, but having just returned from GWA, I’m too tired to write it today. My home and garden were spared–the fire was several miles away–but many were not so lucky.
Below are two recent posts from Fiskars and Lowe’s. If you visit my Lowe’s post and leave a comment, I’ll give you a big hug next time I see you. Of course, I’d hug you anyway.
I have, and if you follow me on GoodReads.com, you might have already read my mini-reviews of these two books, but, in case you missed them . . . .
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of Sharon Lovejoy’s work. For the past twenty years, I’ve read everything she’s written, smiled at her drawings, and implemented much of what she teaches. I’ve built sunflower houses, played with my children during Hollyhock Days, and we’ve shared many other adventures in the garden.
Cute cover, eh?
I’m also proud to be working with her and seven other wonderful writers on the Lowe’s Garden Grow Along blog this spring.
When she asked me to review her new book, Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars: Grandma’s Bag of Tricks, I nearly clapped my hands in delight. Its arrival in the mail made me stop what I was doing to plop down in a chair and give it a once over. This time, Sharon directed her efforts toward grandparents, especially grandmothers. She encourages them to pass on their love for gardening, nature, cooking and all things home to their grandchildren. There are suggestions for making a cozy room with a quilt on the bed and a basket full of books for visiting little ones. (I had a grandmother like this, and I can tell you, next to my mother, I love her more than anyone.)
One grandmother met her darlings with a cup of hot cocoa on the first morning of their stay and then took them for a walk to the beach to see the sunrise. Pure inspiration.
However, before you think this book is only for grandparents, think again. These same games can be played with our nieces and nephews and our own children if we only take the time. Toad Cottages is similar in format to her earlier work Sunflower Houses. You really can build a sunflower house with a morning glory roof. It isn’t difficult, and I assure you the children in your life will always remember it.
As a writer, I receive too many books describing how we should involve our children in the garden, but which base their advice only on practical matters. I think, instead, we should read and implement a book like Toad Cottages which encourages us to instill the love of gardening lore and whimsy.
We only get this one life, and childhood is very short. I would encourage you to take your child’s hand and go on an explore today.
While you’re outside, bring along a sketchbook or notebook with you. Then, if you seen a fantastic bird, or interesting flower or plant, you can quickly capture its essence on paper. Better yet, encourage your child to bring along one too. A love of a gardening starts with a love for nature in all of its beauty, violence and just plain ickiness (think of parasitic wasps eating a caterpillar inside out for example). Kids adore the ick factor as much as beauty, by the way.
Susan Leigh Tomlinson, paleontologist, artist and professor in the Natural History and Humanities program at Texas Tech University, also writes and draws at The Bike Garden. Further, as someone who can build almost anything and often does, she is a woman I truly admire. A few weeks ago, she asked if I’d like to review her new book, How to Keep a Naturalist’s Notebook. While reading it, I was reminded of those amazing, nineteenth-century, women naturalists who carried their field kits with them everywhere and kept detailed records of what they heard and saw on their walks.
Susan drew these images on the cover.
You might ask, in this age of Nikon D90 DX cameras, voice recorders and Flip camcorders, why anyone would want to make their own notebook? A notebook of one’s own contains so much more. Samples of flowers or ferns can be pressed, and one’s own artwork can grace the pages. If you feel intimidated by the idea of creating your own notebook, this book is for you. By the time you finish, you will know the essential information and skills to record and comment upon your own environment. Tomlinson gives both basic and detailed art instruction. Anyone can draw with a bit of help. Even me.
Each chapter addresses a different topic from required equipment for your field kit to tips for wildflower and bird identification. After reading it, I felt inspired to get out my colored pencils and draw, something which I haven’t done since I was pregnant with Bear. I’ll let you know if I draw anything worth scanning.
Meanwhile, you can’t go wrong with these two artists and authors. I’m glad to call them my friends.
This week, the garden writing community was abuzz with news: Meredith Publishing Company laid off 250 of its employees, and ceased publication of Country Home Magazine. Another magazine, The Growing Edge is also shutting its doors. This follows closely on the heels of the end of Cottage Living and House and Garden.
I don’t know about you, but as a reader, I’m worried about print media: the newspapers, magazines and books I read when I’m not participating in the blogosphere. Although, I admit I now subscribe to fewer publications, it’s not only due to time constraints. Some of them just don’t interest me anymore.
As a freelance writer, if I had to depend on writing for my bread and butter, I’d be wringing my hands. However, thus far, I’m still able to write, without worry of personal famine.
Partly due to HH, I still subscribe to our local newspaper, The Oklahoman. Once, it had an entire gardening section, but, now, we’re lucky if gardening gets a single page, and the local writers seem to be limited to very small columns of timeworn tips.
How will that get readers excited about gardening? Even if newspapers feel like they’re going down first with the print media ship, why not go down in a blaze of glory?
Add a little pizzazz to the articles. Readers can get headlines and quick information from numerous online sources.
Offer local news and interesting, well written information.
Use local writers and get local editors to manage the sections. I, for one, don’t want to read another bland Associated Press landscaping story.
The Oklahoman’s online page opens up with local info. I will give them that.
I wrote a piece for Examiner.com about buying your gardener a magazine subscription for Christmas. I love blogs, but I still want to sit on the sofa, or in the carpool line and spread a magazine across my lap. They have the space to delve more deeply into a subject, and to produce large photographs that most bloggers can’t replicate, and many computers can’t load. I need those photographs and beautiful words like I need food.
Part of my gardening bookshelves
I don’t believe magazines are in as dire shape as newspapers, although they’re feeling the pinch of fewer advertisers. For example, I haven’t heard Oklahoma Gardener is having problems, but writers are always the last to know. With an economy in recession, more magazines will fold, but perhaps, we’ll see the return of such venerable ones as Taunton’s Kitchen Gardener since I keep reading that folks are more interested than ever in growing their own food. I haven’t seen that burgeoning interest in my own friends who are managing teenage and college bound children, but they are a small microcosm of the world community.
Books. Well, I still buy books, and my friends buy them, although we read so many, that we’re likely to buy some of them used from Internet sources. Used books don’t help authors, who are paid an advance for their manuscript, and then additional monies once their books sell a certain number of copies.
Readers, a few suggestions:
Buy more new books.
Support your local bookstore. Amazon is great, but local bookstores do a lot to support local authors.
Join a book club.
Frequent your library, but also take your children to bookstores at least once a month and more often if you can afford it.
Tell your kids they can stay up 30 minutes later if they’ll unplug, go in their rooms and read. It’s worked for our family. Three of our seven bookcases are filled with children’s books.
Those are some things the consumer can do. Publishers have been extremely slow to change, and change they must. I will probably never get a book published after writing this, but the truth is, New York City is no longer the center of the publishing universe. Small, efficient publishing houses have sprung up all over the United States, and many writers are pitching and selling their books themselves. Agents take note.
One of seven bookshelves in our house
In the writing and publishing community, self publishing was once a dirty word, but I’ve noticed a trend: lots of writers, both good and bad, are writing and then publishing through their own ebooks, or through Internet sources like Lulu and Tastebook (which helps you create cookbooks). I am not endorsing either of these companies, or self-publishing, but it is a revolution of sorts because these online publishers also promote and sell the books on their webpages.
Most traditionally published book writers are finding more and more that they must provide their own publicity. Last week, Amy Stewart used an creative and ingenious video to promote her new book, Wicked Plants, debuting in May 2009. It helps that her brother is a professional, but using video to promote print media is smart. It can potentially reach those elusive twenty-something readers. Writers, she also has her own simple and effective web page, and she finds the time to write for two blogs, her own and as one of four regular contributors to Garden Rant.
I realize part of this is a natural progression of technology and that whenever there is a great change in such, there is a shakedown of old technologies. Still, I wonder what we can do. I don’t have the answers, but I proposed some observations. Now, I’d like to hear yours because you are the smartest cookies I know.
How can we help print media stay off life support? As my former pastor, John A. Petuskey, said, “Questions, comments, snide remarks?”