Many northern gardeners are familiar with Melinda Myers, the Wisconsin-based writer, TV personality and horticulture educator who is the author of more than 20 books, including Month-by-Month Gardening in Minnesota, which was originally published with support from MSHS.
Her latest book is a great gift for any new or young gardener in our climate or any experienced gardener looking for a basic plant guide. Just published by Cool Springs Press, Minnesota & Wisconsin: Getting Started Garden Guide is both a how-to and a what-to plant book. The book begins with a brief, but information-packed section on gardening in the North, covering the basics of sun, soil, diseases and a quick, but very useful discussion of garden design principles.
The heart of the book are sections devoted to the plants a gardener might choose, including annuals, shrubs, trees, perennials and vines. Myers chose to highlight plants that are rock-solid hardy to our area, dependable and relatively easy to grow. Many of the descriptions include phrases like “relatively low-maintenance” and “essentially pest-free”—words busy gardeners love to hear. These are plants that form the backbone of most gardens in the North, so it’s a handy book to have rather than a more pricey plant guide.
The plant profiles include photographs and cultivar recommendations, but what I really liked were Myers’ regional notes about the plants. For instance, it’s good to know that hyacinths, while pest-free and charming in the spring, don’t often last in our area because our summers are too hot.
Cool Springs Press has given us a book to giveaway to a blog reader. For a chance, here’s what you need to do: Comment below and tell us the plant you recommend most to new gardeners. We’ll announce the winner the day before Thanksgiving.
—Mary Lahr Schier