Friday, March 6, 2015

While we wait …

I hope today is the last blast of winter around here, but while we all wait for warmer temperatures and time in our gardens, we can take a look at The Herb Lover's Spa Book, and maybe use the time indoors to make something special for ourselves or someone else.

This little book by Sue Goetz is subtitled, "Create a Luxury Spa Experience at Home with Fragrant Herbs from Your Yard." It might inspire you to plant more herbs this spring in addition to giving you something to make right now.

The simplicity of the recipes is a plus. Few call for more than three or four ingredients, or as many steps. This makes it easy to personalize and adapt the recipes in any number of ways to suit yourself.

I'll be making the Lavender Heat Pillow (above left) first thing. I have a drug store equivalent which gets daily use, but which doesn't look as pretty or smell as nice. I love the idea of making my own. Rice, lavender buds, and a towel or bit of fabric, and I can have as many as I want for very little money. Just pop into the microwave for a minute to warm it and make it release its soothing fragrance.

There are also body splashes and bath soaks and teas, foot scrubs and hand cream and body oils. But recipes are only about half of the book.

I enjoyed Sue Goetz' thoughtful observations about the spa experience, garden design, defining herbs, and the history of natural cosmetics. There are tips on selecting plants, and a list of 19 favorites with culture and use notes. She has packed a lot into this 8 1/2 x 6 inch, 172 page book—it's herb growing and crafting made relevant for today. And it's pretty, too.


The Herb Lover's Spa Book by Sue Goetz, St. Lynn's Press (2015), 172 pages, $18.95

I was given a copy to review if I wanted to, which I did, because I like it and think you will, too. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

You're thinking about Spring, aren't you?

The New Southern Living Garden Book
Oxmoor House, 768 pages, $34.95
Of course you are! It's so exciting when the days lengthen and we get a few warmish days in January and February. Gardening in the South definitely has its rewards, and an early Spring is one of them. While you're outside this weekend in the nearly 70 degree temperatures that are predicted (and we know the meteorologists are always right), think about where you might want to add some new plants to your garden.

To help you with that plant list, I have a recommendation: The New Southern Living Garden Book. There are more than 8,000 flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs and vines in there! It's the kind of book you could get completely lost in once the temperatures plummet again and you're back inside waiting for another warm-up.

Besides the extensive list of plants, there are fabulous pictures of inspiring gardens all across our area.

Spider lilies underneath the pecan trees at the home of Virginia Sue Barr in Oak Ridge, Louisiana

Fall in the Asheville, NC garden of Peter and Jasmin Gentling 

There are sections on gardening in containers, growing herbs, pruning, growing annuals, perennials, bulbs, and lawns.

I was excited to see that there are many excellent native plants in this guide, as well. Every two page spread seems to have one or more. Very cool.

Editor Steve Bender, whom you might know as "The Grumpy Gardener," explains in the book's introduction, "This revised book is bigger and showier than its predecessors, but its aim hasn't waivered – serve a wide range of both beginning and experienced gardeners. Its pages represent Southern Living's 50-years of gardening know-how plus the insights of an all-star roster of renowned horticulturalists who reviewed its pages for accuracy."

It would be hard to imagine a gardener in the South who wouldn't want The New Southern Living Garden Book. For reference or inspiration, this is a "can't go wrong" sort of purchase.


Southern Living provided a copy of The New Southern Living Garden Book to me, free of charge. I was not under obligation to review it. I have expressed my true opinion in the post above.