Thursday, August 2, 2007

Victory Garden redux

Some of us remember when Roger Swain, with his scratchy beard and generous middle, led the original Victory Garden team, along with Marian Morash, wife of the producer and a wonderful cook, and Tovah Martin, who as I remember concentrated on herbs and container gardens. But since 2001 the show has been led by Michael Weishan, whom I'm beginning to like.

His book is actually quite good; he starts out with the obvious question, why another basic gardening book? This one, he says, is a basic sampler of good gardening practice that helps you to ask why as well as how. He concentrates mainly on design, with entreaties to amend your soil and pay attention to light requirements, all good advice (that I sometimes follow). He encourages gardeners to start with the house when designing gardens. Pay attention to which parts of the garden you see from the house and integrate your house's style into the style of your gardens and hardscape. Those ubiquitous and boring foundation plantings should be designed in layers to make it look as though the house is emerging from the garden rather than being tightly outlined by shrubs in formation. Finally, he makes the very good point that outdoor scale is big - you need more space for tables and chairs than you might think.

The photos are inspiring without being so amazing that the ordinary gardener feels humiliated. Nicely done.

1 comment:

Becky said...

It's interesting to read that he's growing on you because I'm having the same experience. I couldn't stand him at first; finding him incredibly egotistical and a little condescending. I especially didn't like his interactions with Kip; I thought he was downright rude to him! Then I saw Kip interact with the extremely affable Brit from the show and realized that Kip is the problem! Of course, my new "understanding" of Michael could just stem from the guilt of having misjudged him, only time will tell. I will definitely check out his book!