Category: Gardening (Page 1 of 3)

Come Check Out My Spring Display (Pt 1)

Despite all the rain of the past few days, spring means a number of very sunny and happy things to me. So in honor of this most wonderful time in Mississippi, during the two-week period when we don’t all feel like we will surely die from wretched, wet cold or suffocate from the stifling heat, we can all walk outside our homes and just say “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”



I have built a display. This display is what spring means to me and essentially all of the things it makes me want to do. I feel certain I’m not the only one who gets the planting bug in the spring. I have a particular fondness for succulents and terrariums. Why you might ask? Well that is because they are low maintenance, they are clean and fresh looking, and depending on your arrangement, they can look rather elaborate. I like to appear like I know what I’m doing, people. And I truly, to goodness do not. I was not blessed with the green thumb of father and mother. It is not necessarily a black thumb; I fondly call it my gray thumb. So in this situation everyone wins…including the plants. If anyone feels so inclined, I’ve placed a book on this display for each of these loves. One is called Terrarium Craft, the other Hardy Succulents. Another favorite is Tiny Terrarium. If you are interested ask me and I’ll show it to you! Essentially you create scenes inside your terrarium with people and any manner of thing. I know Joan Hawkins Interiors had the makings for these things.


Anyhow moving on…spring also makes me want to spruce my house up. Justina Blakeney’s new book The New Bohemians makes me want to completely rethink my entire decorating scheme – just completely start all over again. I love the clean lines of a mid-century furniture, but lord knows I can cram a lot of stuff in a space and hang a lot of art on the walls. So does this make me a modern bohemian, as a section in her book suggests? I have many questions left on this matter, but honestly this book is a feast for your eyes. Blakeney has gotten quite a lot of acclaim for design aesthetic over the past few years, and this book only further proves why. Now if I really want to build on what I’ve got (which my mother would say is my best option), I should really invest in the new Apartment Therapy Complete + Happy Home. This book pulls from a little bit of everywhere just like their incredible blog of the same name (Apartment Therapy…in case you missed that part). I mean this book talks about it all, down to the frames you use for your art, without being overwhelming and nitpicking. Oh I almost forgot to mention that The New Bohemians has great DIY projects in it which segues into my next desire of spring…CRAFTING.

I pretty m9781617691751uch always love to make something, but I think the whole new life thing that comes along with spring really does something to me. A book I’ve been drooling over for quite some time now is The Modern Natural Dyer. Not only is it a gorgeous book, but it also tells you how to dye fibers with flowers, vegetables, and spices. Basically head on over to the grocery store and make a mess because I love to make a mess. It’s the cleaning up that presents a problem for me. This book has twenty projects for your home and your wardrobe, including knitting and sewing. Pretty amazing if you think about it. “Oh, why yes, I did make this! I dyed it as well. Eat your freaking heart out!!!” Next up on the docket we have Materially Crafted: A DIY Primer for the Design-Obsessed (that’s me). So this book’s projects are broken down into sections of spray paint, plaster, concrete, paper, thread, wax, wood, and the list goes on. I could definitely get into a modern looking concrete cake stand or some precious wax bud vases. There is more to come about this display, but I feel like I am close to losing all of you so I will leave you here

Rooted in Design by Tara Heibei and Tassey de Give

I know our blogs are normally written on fiction related books, but I figured (with it being summer and all)….I’d write this blog about gardening!


I’ve grown up with my Dad always planting a garden, every single year. I’ve grown up hoeing, planting, and then picking, shelling, or snapping. Every year. With that being said…you learn a thing or two about how to plant/where to plant certain plants, seeds or bulbs. However, because my husband and I are only renting our current home, I’ve mainly stuck with indoor plants and container gardening (tomatoes WILL grow in a bucket).


With the indoor plants, because they are a form of decoration for me, I became more interested in their looks. I would definitely pop into Lowes, buy a few plants I thought were “pretty” or “neat” and then plant them. I soon realized, I didn’t even know what half of the plants I had were named or even how much sun or watering they needed.

42619-2TSo! Of course I turned to our bookstore and rummaged through the gardening section. I came across Rooted in Design and realized it was the best of both worlds (a book on taking care of indoor plants AND using them for decor in your home). Just looking at the photos in this book made me want to buy all of the plants at Lowes. The authors discuss the importance of balance when using plants as decor in your home, making sure to not overcrowd an area, but to use plants to play with the proportions of a space. There is a section in the back that goes over fertilization, pruning, potting and re-potting as well as a plant directory, with photographs and the scientific names, of every plant shown through-out the book. Which this, of course, helped me to figure out what some of plants I already had were named and what amount of watering they needed.


There are so many projects in this book (building terrariums, growing vines along your wall, moss walls, etc.) that it inspired me to basically re-pot all of the plants in my home. I went out and made sure I purchased the correct potting soil; I even bought rocks to make sure water would drain better in some of my pots (…I paid for rocks, y’all). Here are a few of the plants I re-potted.

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And they’re still going strong!

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I’ve never owned a gardening book before, but I’m really happy I picked this one up. If you’re into (or just getting into) indoor or container gardening, I would suggest taking a look at this book. It definitely inspires one to be creative in their home and in their gardening.

Slow Gardening by Felder Rushing

Slow Gardening is inspired by the Slow Food movement, a movement which supports local food sources and biological and cultural diversity. Felder Rushing’s Slow Gardening supports a similar movement in gardening which encourages us to pay closer attention to the rhythm and seasons in our own gardening community and follow our creative intuition.

Felder’s book is geared toward the new or intermediate gardener, but as a veteran gardener, I found it a refreshing read. The book is laid out in a beautiful and reader friendly format with stories and examples from Felder’s and other gardens. Each section is peppered with quotes which speak to life lessons and gardening. Some of Felder’s advice might seem like common sense, but even the most experienced gardeners can use these reminders because gardening can be trying at times! Perhaps that is why Felder includes an entire section on “Garden Psychology.” Felder also deals with the “Nuts and Bolts” of gardening, dealing with pests, and learning how to compost and fertilize properly.

Slow Gardening is the perfect gift for yourself or your gardening friend as we gear up for another growing season.

Written by Lisa Newman

Cookbooks That Hold Your Hand & Your Attention

Here are some cookbooks whose insides are easy to navigate and clear, but that challenge you creatively. To me, many of the rules for choosing a good bedside novel also apply to cookbooks: don’t judge all of them by their covers – read the first page in order to tell if it will be a good fit for you, and only buy a book you will use. Of these four books, everyone with a little kitchen motivation could find a great fit.

Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Garden by Matt Wilkinson, $27.50, Black Dog & Leventhal

This brand new gem is a good read for people whcookbooksholdurhando both grow in containers and are seasoned gardeners. Matt Wilkinson writes about both gardening and cooking  in an approachable way, and the book is filled with pictures and has a very hip design. It is organized by 26 vegetables that are common in American gardens, including tomatoes, leaves from the garden, and fennel.  Following a unique, pagelong introduction to each vegetable are recipes that incorporate it, tips, and explanations about technique. It’s a youthful book, and doesn’t presume much of anything about the kitchen that it ends up in.

Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes by Nigella Lawson, $35.00, Clarkson Potter

Nigella is the famed author of the cookbook How to be a Domestic Goddess, and is a force in the cooking world. Just look at her website, Her new book covers the gamut of Italian recipes, all of which seem intoxicatingly rich and are paired with beautiful photographs. Each recipe has very clear, ordered instructions. This book is a graceful combination of the gorgeous gift cookbook and a methodical introduction to rich Italian recipes.

The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider, $27.50, William Morrow

This one has been around since 2006, but still seems unique in its approach. Combining recipes with explanations of how they work and examples of how they can be improvised upon, this is a book for someone who seriously wants to learn to cook off the cookbook. It is less a cookbook than a class in cooking.  It includes glossaries on pantry essentials and how to create various ethnic flavors.

Home-Cooked Comforts: Oven Bakes, Casseroles, and Other One-Pot Dishes by Laura Washburn, $24.95, Ryland, Peters & Small

This is the best book of one-pot dishes I’ve come across in my time bumbling around the cookbook section. Tons of delicious meat, poultry, fish, and vegetarian recipes, and good photos paired with each.

by Whitney

City Books

Cities. Isn’t it wild that something so obvious to modern life is the topic of so many books?


No, because we are humans with minds that crave to understand ourselves and our ways of living. Here are some books that play to that desire from a myriad of perspectives, that offer very different ways of ultimately making sense of a happy life in today’s geography: the city.

GARDENING: The Balcony Gardener, by Isabelle Palmer, $19.95, Cico Books

This book is literally an aesthetic inspiration from cover to cover. Palmer introduces the tools for growing in balcony containers, and presents a book that is at once fun (one spread is titled “Cocktail Window Box,” pgs. 94-95) and educational, with concise explanations about everything from “All About Potting Mix” to “Salad Crops.”

COOKING: The City Cook, by Kate McDonough, $20.00, Simon and Schuster

Apparently a projection of, this book explains pantry planning for delicious meals at home in the city. McDonough has studied urban planning and French cooking, and worked as a business executive. Wouldn’t you trust it?

I would be amiss to mention this book without also putting in a plug for the myriad of awesome cookbooks we house in the huge cooking section. Love visuals in your cookbooks? Step-by-step instructions or encyclopedic Spanish cookbooks? Need something about how to improvise or how to make a schoolyard vegetable garden or how to design a professional plate? We have it all.

(SUB)URBAN PLANNING: Walkable City by Jeff Speck, $27.00, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Speck co-authored Suburban Nation (2000), which is in its 10th anniversary printing and still a relevant text. But what excites me about the brand new book Walkable City is that it tackles the problem of suburban sprawl in a horizontal way: it stands by the positive potential of cities in light of the sprawl.

How Buildings Learn by Steward Brand is about reading buildings and cities. Brand seems to appreciate cities through investigating their history, which is a different perspective but equally compelling and hopeful about the potential for our living spaces going forward.

URBAN CULTURE: A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook, $27.95, W. W. Norton & Co.

This brand new book seems to utilize case studies of St. Petersburg, Bombay, and Shanghai, to make an argument about the part of social influence in the global order of today.

The breadth of these “city” books is poetic. I just remembered a striking book of poems I read in college called Ideal Cities. In it, Erika Meitner paints a landscape inside her baby’s nursery via the contrast with the urban frontier outside. What better way to illustrate the great part that modern geography plays in our very identity?

by Whitney

An Education on Container Gardening

The industrial eater is, in fact, one who does not know that eating is an agricultural act, who no longer knows or imagines the connections between eating and the land, and who is therefore necessarily passive and uncritical – in short, a victim. When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous. -Wendell Berry, “The Pleasures of Eating,” The Art of the Commonplace

With spring fast approaching, I find myself yearning to shed the many layers of heavy winter clothing and also discover that my palate is craving dishes on the lighter side of the food spectrum.

In an effort to get back to my agrarian roots and avoid being a “victim” in  Mr. Berry’s eyes, I have decided to attempt to grow an organic container garden on my back patio. The key word here being “attempt.”

Since my knowledge of organic container gardens is most definitely lacking, I have enlisted the help of a book: Organic Crops in Pots by Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell. I happened upon this book in the gardening section of the store, and it turns out to be exactly what I needed. This book is full of helpful and encouraging points on organic gardening for small spaces.

The suggestions for containers range from old olive oil cans to a galvanized metal tub-basically any type of recyclable container that suits your taste. There’s also a chapter on herbs, which I found very helpful and a section on tomatoes, which I’ve not had much luck growing up to this point. Hopefully I will be able to turn that luck around and have a bumper crop of delicious, organic tomatoes from my own back yard this summer!


by Anna

Gardening Books for Christmas

As the garden section “in charge” person on staff, I get so excited when I hear of a new gardening book. By the time it arrives in the store, I have already thought  of how to market it and write about it. Three delightful Southern gardening books arrived this past year, so if someone asked me what were the great Southern gardening books published this past year, which would make  great Christmas  gifts, these are the beauties which I would select:

One Writers Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place by Susan Haltom and Jane Roy Brown would be at the very top of my list. Susan, a personal friend of mine, asked Eudora Welty herself in the mid 1990s if she would allow her garden to be renovated. Miss Welty gave Susan permission to restore the garden just as it was in the 2oth century, so Susan got to work researching the garden, primarily at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Susan’s co-author, Jane Roy Brown, who resides in Massachusetts, researched societal movements and national landscape design trends, which were apparent during the time, and renowned Mississippi landscape photographer Langdon Clay added his beautiful four season photographs of the Welty garden. The book which emerged is spectacular! 

One Writers Garden is divided into four sections: Spring, 1920s; Summer, 1930s; Fall,1940s; and Winter, Postwar and Beyond. The appendices at the back are to be cherished by a Mississippi gardener, for they include lists of what Eudora Welty and her mother Chestina, who actually was the garden founder, grew– from the original plant list, to annuals, to roses,  to a partial list of flowers and plants mentioned in the Pulitzer Prize winning author’s prose.  This is a reference, as well as a gardening book for ALL Mississippians, as well as others, to have on their book shelves, or to take out into their gardens to dream about and be inspired.

First of all, however, this book should be on prominent display on coffee tables and in personal libraries throughout the state, for it is truly a beautiful and classy and  informative gardening guide heralding gardens of past times. Additionally, every reader of this book should visit the newly restored breath- taking Welty Garden on Pinehurst Street across from Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi.

Author Susan Haltom, is the garden designer, preservation and maintenance coordinator of the Welty Garden. Since I often work with Susan, and the other “Cereus Weeders”  in the Welty garden, I can personally attest to the fact that Susan has a wealth of information in her gardening head, and she puts it to good use in the Welty garden.

I can’t imagine a better or more lovely garden restoration, especially at the home and garden of one of the world’s most influential and talented writers. Now we Mississippians have something else in the realm of  arts and literature to make us proud:  the Welty Garden! Kudos to Susan how personally made and continues to make this happen.

Garden guru Jacksonian Felder Rushing, known locally, nationally, and internationally has penned a new book this year, to add to his other best selling gardening books, titled Slow Gardening: A No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and Seasons.

In the introduction, Rushing states, “Life has lots of pressures–why include them in the garden? Doing something slowly means savoring what you are doing. Slow Gardening has its inspirational roots in Slow Food, an international movement founded by Italian activist  Carlo Petrini and others in the 1980s and dedicated to celebrating and defending traditional, seasonal, and sustainably grown local foods, and the people who produce and prepare them.”

The clever, tongue in cheek photos in this motivational gardening book, such as the worm bin, the compost bin, and the whimsical garden art, entertain the reader who is yearning for a different approach to gardening.

This book is for those who don’t mind breaking the landscape rules and for those who want to be free to sit awhile and reflect, free from grass cutting, fertilizing, raking, and weeding. In other words, this innovative gardening book is for the unique, creative, and willing to change gardener who want to “slow down” and “smell the roses”!

Heirloom Gardening in the South: Yesterday’s  Plants for Today’s Gardens by William C. Welch and Greg Grant ranks as my next chosen 2011 gardening book! For those gardeners who appreciate the diverse and interesting heritage of our Southern plants and flowers, this, not only attractive, but highly useful gardening book, fills the bill!

The two dedicated, passionate gardening authors explain their love for pass-along plants, as well as their adoration for old bulbs and cemetery plants, among others. As native Texas gardeners, they are familiar with the challenges and problems surrounding growing flowers and plants in the drought and humidity infused South, so their advice on what to choose, what has worked, and what will work in a Southern garden comes from years and years of experience.

Some of the most enjoyable chapters, including “Rediscovering a Wealth of Southern Heirloom Plants”, “Heirloom Plants of the South” and “How Our Gardens Grew: Creating Your Own Garden Traditions”, not only make any Southern gardener want to rethink his or her choice of plants and flowers but also challenge the gardener to plant and cherish the old, tried-and-true beauties which our Southern ancestors chose.  -Nan

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I have now found one of my all time favorite novels, and it will be my number ONE book to sell  for the holidays! So, “What is it?”, you ask! It is: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Naturally, because I am a flower lover and spend most of my spare time in my garden, when not reading the latest contemporary fiction, I was bound to love this book. But, I might not have liked it, if the writing and the story had not been so “good”! Lisa had read the advanced copy a few weeks ago and had told me that I was going to like it. She was right!

The novel revolves around flowers, essentially the meaning or language of flowers. The protagonist, Victoria Jones, an orphan who has been in and out of numerous foster homes, has learned from her once favorite, but currently estranged, foster mom, all about the meaning of each flower. Even though she left that household at age 10, Victoria never forgot what she had learned and actually continued to teach herself about the meaning of flowers. Eventually, at age 18, when she had been fully emancipated from the girls’ group home, Victoria, now voluntarily homeless, lands a  job as a flower arranger at a local florist. Eventually she acquires a long list of customers who request her personally to design bridal bouquets, as well as other arrangements containing the flowers which send the messages or secret codes for the beloved.

Meet author Vanessa Diffenbaugh in the above video, courtesy of Random House. See Vanessa’s official website here.

As the novel progresses, love finds a way into Victoria’s life, as well as a demanding  newborn, but being unequipped for the emotions and demanding physical requirements, she flees. As the author works out the challenges of each character involved in this convoluted, but charismatic story, the reader sits on pins and needles hoping and desiring a positive outcome. One of the reasons that I believe this novel is so very successful is due to the fact that the author is a foster mom herself, having personal experience with the problems that foster girls face, particularly the matter of trust.

One of my favorite features of this novel is the flower glossary at the end which lists specific flowers and their meanings.In fact, gardeners will adore this book as well!  I will cherish it for years to come, and will also “use” it to remind myself of  the special “language of flowers.”

I thank Toni Hetzel, one of our brilliant Random House reps for saving this book for me, knowing all along how much I would like it! Liz, our other RH rep and Toni are like the ultimate book sellers, for they sell to us readers/book sellers at Lemuria, and they know our tastes and choices just as the staff here knows the tastes of our customers. It’s a pretty cozy relationship which has worked at Lemuria for over thirty years now, one more reason for praises for our independent book store! Can one find this at the big “box” stores? I think not!








The Language of Flowers is a book written from the heart.

Vanessa and her husband, PK, have three children: Tre’von, eighteen; Chela, four; and Miles, three. Tre’von, a former foster child, is attending New York University on a Gates Millennium Scholarship.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh is also the founder of the Camellia Network.  The mission of the Camellia Network is to create a nationwide movement to support youth transitioning from foster care. In The Language of Flowers, Camellia [kuh-meel-yuh] means “My Destiny is in Your Hands.” The network’s name emphasizes the belief in the interconnectedness of humanity: each gift a young person receives will be accompanied by a camellia, a reminder that the destiny of our nation lies in the hands of our youngest citizens.

See Vanessa’s official website here.

The Language of Flowers will be released Tuesday, August 23, 2011.


Heirloom Gardening in the South: Yesterday’s Plants for Today’s Gardens by William C. Welch and Greg Grant

I am really, really excited about the new Southern gardening book which just appeared in my gardening section by surprise a couple of weeks ago. Everyone who has looked at it agrees with me that it is a beautiful book, but also a “keeper” for Southern gardeners. The photos alone are “eye candy” for obsessed gardeners. Just thumbing through it gave me a thrill to see all of the “knock-down/drag out ” plants and flowers. From the close up photos of such individual flowers as the Crinum lily called “Sangria” and the closeup photo of the Mayhaw blossoms, to the larger photos of such glorious trees as the Changsha tangerine growing in Texas, to the Satsuma tree also in Texas, well, my heart leaped for joy.

Heirloom Gardening in the South is divided into these sections: “Exploring Our Gardening Heritage”, “Rediscovering a Wealth of Southern Heirloom Plants”, “The Right Plant in the Right Place”, “Heirloom Plants of the South”, and “How Our Gardens Grew: Creating Your Own Garden Traditions”. Within each of these sections are logical divisions, such as in “Exploring Our Gardening Heritage”, the reader/gardener will find Native American influence, Spanish influence, French influence, African influence, English influence, German influence, Italian influence,and Asian influence.  -Nan

Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf

As an avid gardener, I am always interested in the history of gardening, whether it be the immediate past history of my friends’ gardens, or the history of some of the first gardens of America.

As a teenager, I followed my mother around Williamsburg, Virginia, studying the formal English based gardens of the Virginia planters. She later used that research to plan her own formal Williamsburg garden with its four boxwood points focusing on a marble sundial, which I have been fortunate to inherit for my own cottage style garden.

In Founding Gardeners author Andrea Wulf explores the development and history of  George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, John Adams’ Peacefield (see below), and James Madison’s Montpelier. In the appendix, the reader can explore the actual maps of these great estates and locate the placement of all plants, trees, flowers, and vegetables.

Some of the interesting chapter titles, such as “Gardens, peculiarly worth the attention of  an American,” “A Nursery of American Statesmen,” “The Constitutional Convention in 1787 and a Garden Visit” as well as  “Political Plants Grow in the Shade,” get the reader’s attention immediately.

Wulf notes, “For the founding fathers, gardening, agriculture, and botany were elemental passions, as deeply ingrained in their characters as their belief in liberty for the nation they were creating.”

Founding Gardeners is a beautiful, as well as informative book off the beaten track. For gardeners and history lovers, this is a noteworthy book to have on a reference shelf in a home library.

Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation by Andrea Wulf (Random House, 2011).


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