Wouldn't you like to have some fresh ideas, month after month, for projects and plants to try in your garden or home landscape? All sorts of garden magazines offer color photographs of model gardens, articles on topics ranging from specific plant profiles to general how-to advice, and plenty of sources for decorative elements and supplies that gardeners need.
If you're trying to think of holiday gifts for gardening friends and relatives, subscriptions will deliver a year-round present. Rates vary, so look for special holiday offers.
Here are some of my favorites:
■ Horticulture: The Art & Science of Smart Gardening. www.hortmag.com. Glossy photos and well-known writers make some interesting reading. William Cullina's feature on native grasses in the current issue is insightful.
Never miss a local story.
■ The Herb Quarterly. www.herbquarterly.com. This publication, with cozy watercolor illustrations and photos, has been published since 1978. Herb and edible-flower growing, recipes, use and lore, and garden reviews are included. The current issue's feature "African healing herbs" covers unusual plants including neem and nutmeg.
■ Fine Gardening. www.finegardening.com. Its far-reaching Web presence is amazing. It include blogs, contests and a discussion forum, and there are how-to videos, including how to prune conifers, and an audio-based pronunciation guide for Latin plant names. The savvy, in-the-moment feeling extends to the print magazine. The current issue features "Conifers for shade" and the attention-grabbing "Ants aren't your enemy."
■ Flower Magazine: Enriching Your Life Through Flowers. www.flowermag.com. This relatively new publication is about the art and pleasure of floral design for a "you can try this at home" crowd. This fall's "light green" issue has a story about Lady Bird Johnson's Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, and some creative ideas for non-vase vessels, including spice tins and plastic ware, for arrangements. Brides can discover eco-friendly options for back-yard bouquets, favors and table décor.
■ Back Home: Your Hands-On Guide to Sustainable Living. www.backhomemagazine.com. This bimonthly magazine is filled with "why didn't I think of that?" ideas. You can learn about creating art by "flower pounding," coping with wildlife damage and blackbird cacophony, and building a cheese press and making your own cheese. Useful and fun ideas for making the most of your landscape and garden.
Flickr garden tours
Have you discovered Flickr yet? This searchable, online array of photos covers the world, with images taken and shared by members for free.
Want to see some Kentucky gardens? Go to www.Flickr.com and search for them. Find portfolio series, such as "Geneva's garden" on Gratz Park by Louis Bickett; or Larry Daughtery's "Kentucky images" of beasts and butterflies, which takes you on a nature tour from your home computer.
I love the idea, by someone who goes by Uloo, of photographing Kentucky's waterfalls, and the Red River Gorge fall color shots are fantastic. Once you're oriented to the Web site, you can upload your own photos. It's a great way to keep the winter blahs at bay and spend some time learning about the wonders of the world around you.
Living better with plants
As our population ages, issues involving quality of life and personal choices for controlling living space arrangements are coming to the forefront. A group of researchers at the University of Exeter in England, along with Ambius — the world's largest commercial environment plant provider — has conducted studies that show that nursing home residents feel happier and healthier when they can influence their communal surroundings with choices in artwork and plants.
"According to psychological theory, residents in a senior living home who believe that it is within their power to make a difference to the appearance of their living space should feel more empowered, thus leading to more positive feelings toward their fellow residents, the caregivers in the home, and the home itself," said principal researcher Craig Knight.