Great gardening ideas for the dog days of summer
Hot weather makes tending a garden hard in the summer. My poor flowers. The best I could do with the 90- to 100-degree weather we had recently was to set up a sprinkler and run back inside.
In the spring, I always have high hopes for all the things I'll do in the garden, and then once it hits the upper 80s and above, I give up and start making plans for next year — or maybe the fall, once it cools down.
So invariably, this is the time when I check out all of the cool new gardening books at the library and look for new ideas.
I ran into a co-worker earlier this summer at a garden shop. She had made the neatest little "fairy garden" inside the water tray of a pot. Intrigued by the idea, I wanted to make my own and found a new book on the topic.
"Gardening In Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World" by Janit Calvo was perfect. The author presented several ideas for themes, including not only a fairy garden, but lots of other concepts like a lakeside hideout, a Zen retreat, a secret walled garden and a miniature version of your own house and yard.
The photography enhanced the instructions in this book and included information on plant selection, how to make little walkways and hardscapes and ideas for accompanying pieces to complete your vision. Soil and light requirements also were addressed, as well as suggestions for the new hobbyist.
I loved all of the plans and have already started pulling all of my ideas together. I'm going to start shopping at garage sales for tiny additions to my masterpiece.
In "Touch A Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening With Kids" by April Pulley Sayre, the reader learns about great ideas for bringing kids out of the house, away from their iPods and closer to nature.
When my kids were younger, they loved hunting for toads, lightning bugs and even those little roly-polys. This book takes that natural curiosity and wonder a bit further in providing plans for attracting desirable wildlife to your yard.
A discussion of the different animals to watch in your area is supplemented by great photos. A description of the animals' or insects' natural habitats, food sources and any predators is given.
I loved the descriptions of the wildlife, as well as the explanations of which plants can be grouped together to entice the specific birds or butterflies that the reader is looking to attract.
Additional information is given on building a community garden, creating a sensory garden and getting your wildlife space certified by the National Wildlife Federation.
This book was full of great ideas in easy to understand language and pictures.
I know fellow gardeners who have looked to the succulent family of plants to fill in areas of their yards. These low-water plants can thrive in areas where other varieties would simply melt away. I have some of the new sedums in my yard, but I didn't realize that succulents come in so many different sizes, colors and textures.
I love the geometric look to many of their leaf formations, the mesmerizing overlapping spirals, the starfish-like patterns, even perfect little rosettes.
I'm not a great "waterer." I've often said that the flowers in my garden need to have some sense of self-sufficiency. I don't pamper the flowers. I have now found that these succulents will be perfect for me.
In this book, the author goes over some of the many varieties of this plant family, and the numerous photos display the variety of colorations, shapes and sizes to meet every space need.
How-to projects include a garden on a cake stand, vertical gardens, low-light options and varieties for children's interests.
Looking at new gardening books in midsummer gets me remotivated to create beauty in my own yard. Hopefully, one of these or any of the others in our large gardening and landscaping sections will do the same for you.
Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.