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Alabama Gardens: Garden Reading

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A garden of reading delights to wile away the winter


January Gardening Tips

  • Make a year-long list of monthly yard and garden projects to tackle.
  • Clean up limbs, leaves and other trash from the garden and yard.
  • Plant dormant trees and shrubs, roses and spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Sow seeds for early spring vegetables.
  • Keep newly planted landscape plants watered.
  • Attend gardening workshops, short courses and events.
  • Look for more winter deals on gardening and outdoor equipment.
  • Test your soil.
  • Keep windows and houseplants clean.
  • Feed the birds.
  • Plant a kitchen herb garden.

January may not be the best month for gardening outside, but it is a great time to curl up with some good gardening reads.

If you need a little garden inspiration flavored with humor, introspection and soulfulness, check out a newly released collection of columns and essays produced by GreenPrints, “The Weeder’s Digest.”

GreenPrints is a quarterly print and e-journal that took root 25 years ago when its founder, Pat Stone, left a job as a garden editor at Mother Earth News and, along with his wife Becky and a small but dedicated staff, launched GreenPrints as a little black-and-white magazine that focused on the human, not the how-to, side of gardening.

Since then, GreenPrints has published stories showcasing the heart, soul and art of gardening, earned the adoration of many subscribers and won two Best Small Garden Magazine in America awards.

It just published its 100th issue filled with stories from the likes of Mark Twain, fantasy writer Garth Nix and other less famous but exceptionally gifted writers. Their stories about Barbie flower fairies, hummingbirds in hand, duck-invaded gardens and many other topics are a delight and the illustrations are as beautiful as the words. To get a copy, go to www.greenprints.com or call 800-569-0602.

If you’re in the mood for more literary reading, get a copy of Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets, a collection of poems about gardening and farming edited by Alabama poet, freelance writer and educator Jennifer Horne. This lovely book actually came out in 2003 but it remains one of my go-to favorites, especially when I crave a moment of reflection or want to be inspired in my own writing and gardening. It’s available in paperback online or at local bookstores.

And if you want to turn your reading time into learning time, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System has information on all things gardening, most of which is available (often at no charge) through its county offices or at www.aces.edu.

A new ACES book that is only available on iBooks at the moment is also fabulous. Gardening in the South uses Master Gardener training and university research to provide detailed information, tips and tricks on successful Southern gardening, all enhanced with great illustrations and videos as well as quizzes at the end of each chapter. Search for it in the iTunes store.

If you want to fill your calendar with reasons to celebrate gardening and the great outdoors, check out the National Day Calendar website at nationaldaycalendar.com. Here you’ll find monthly lists of national and international celebrations, from the traditional to the quirky, such as National Weed Appreciation Day (March 28), National Water a Flower Day (May 30) and National Johnny Appleseed Day (Sept. 26).

Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at katielamarjackson@gmail.com.