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Another Good Garden Book for Winter


Does your garden wear the “layered look?”

“Garden layers are made up of a variety of plants, some with complementary or contrasting colors, others with interesting shapes or textures,” writes David Culp, author of a new book, The Layered Garden (Timber Press, $34.95). “Layers are more than just perennials, or annuals or bulbs, or groundcovers — they are more than just the ground layer of plants that are the sole focus of many gardeners.”

This is a delightful book on many levels. Rob Cardillo’s photography is stunning. The enchanting close-ups of snowdrops and hellebores and bees on an angelica blossom, as well as the views of Culp’s garden from the roof of his 18th-Century farmhouse, the picket-fenced vegetable garden and benches tucked along the hillside where dogwoods and daffodils bloom, make me wish I could get outside right now and begin planting.

Photos: Rob Cardillo

This book is a good replacement for all the boring “garden-in-a-box” television shows that illustrate how to get the “instant” garden. Instead, Culp takes us from his journey as a child when his grandmother introduced him to gardening to the fabulous two-acre garden in southeastern Pennsylvania that he has established with his partner, Michael Alderfer over the past two decades.

The book provides a basic lesson in layering — how to choose the right plants for your garden by understanding how they grow and change throughout the seasons, how to design a layered garden, and how to maintain it. An avid plant collector, Culp developed the Brandywine Hybrid strain of hellebores and has almost every strain of snowdrop. So, pick up a copy and sit down with a cup of steaming tea. Winter will be with us for another seven weeks.

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questions

I keep seeing photos of interesting plants I’d like to grow, but they’re labeled zone 6 and I’m in zone 5. What can I do to successfully overwinter these marginal plants? I’d like to try them, but I don’t want to waste my money.

My split-leaf Japanese maple tree is 15 to 20 years old, about 7 feet high and about 10 feet wide. It is overtaking the corner of the yard. Can I trim it, and at what time of the year?

I have some peonies that I want to transplant but cannot plant them in their permanent place until next spring when our new house will be built. Can I dig them now and transplant them again next spring?

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