This is the season when we are often urged to curl up with a good book. I am never convinced about the curling up part; I prefer to stretch out, but the good book suggestion really hits home.
I have so many gardening books that I just love, and I am going to share some of them today.
My favorites are the books written by Beverley Nichols in the 1930s and '40s. I am not sure why I loved them in my teens, but I did, and have always remembered them fondly.
I recently began a collection. Beverley was a life-long bachelor who had homes and gardens in England, ranging from a small house in the city to his cottage in the former county of Huntingdonshire, and on to Merry Hall, an imposing mansion with 22 rooms and four acres of garden.
He usually employed at least one manservant, as well as a gardener, but was always deeply involved in the planning, planting and care of his gardens. He describes in fascinating detail his struggles and successes until his death in 1983.
If I were to choose one book from the many he wrote, I would recommend "The Gift of a Home," published in 1972 as a compilation of three of his earliest books, including the early "Down the Garden Path." Although it is unashamedly sentimental, humorous and very dated, I just love this book.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a more practical note are the works of the late Jim Crockett.
He was the founder of the "Victory Garden" television series and author of several books derived from it, and his knowledge and experience provide an awe-inspiring amount of advice for the gardener.
The TV series began in December 1974 on Boston's WGBH with a weekly description of a garden started on a bare, stony and bleak 75- by 75-foot area of ground just outside the studio, which Jim developed into a flourishing vegetable garden complete with a greenhouse.
The show chronicled the growth of the garden, keeping to the calendar (unlike the present "Victory Garden program," which is a poor effort) and, in the winter, he taught us about house plants and life in the greenhouse. His books developed from the program,
with the first - "Crockett's Victory Garden" - published in 1977.
He also wrote books about indoor gardening and flowers, all filled with useful, reliable information.
And then there's "My Vegetable Love" by Carl H. Klaus.
I first read this in 1996, the year it was published, and it has been a useful reference since. Klaus has written at least three other books since then, all of which I have and re-read frequently. But the first is my favorite. It is subtitled "A Journal of a Growing Season" and takes the reader from March to September 1994 as his garden grew.
As one would expect from a retired professor of English at the University of Iowa, the writing is predictably excellent, and so is the wealth of information contained in the almost daily entries.
I wrote to Dr. Klaus when I first read his book, a kind of fan mail to tell him how much I had enjoyed it, and that developed into quite a correspondence for awhile.
These are just a few of the books I love and read over and over. There are many more, and I will include some additional favorites in another column.