August 2009 Happenings and Tidbits

– Posted in: Miscellaneous

echinacea and grasses-resized

It has been one funky summer weatherwise. The East coast appears to be having one of the  wettest and coolest summers on record. In speaking with some colleagues in England, they’ve  had non-stop rain for the past 30 days with absolutely little to no sun.

Mediterranean countries are experiencing hot and dry summers. Even in Israel,  it is considered to be excessively hot and, as usual, with no rain in sight until late fall. What has made the situation more dire than ever here this summer is the below level rain that Israel had this past winter into spring. Up until this year, there had been non-enforced water restrictions (similar to what we had on the East coast during drought-ridden summers). But this is the first summer where the government is taxing every family for water use. Sound extreme? Or is this just a necessary/desperate attempt to try to mitigate the extreme lack of water in this tiny country?

So, when some of my fellow GGWers complained to me about the weather and the surplus of weeds, I told them  that I’d love to come work in their gardens and weed my heart out! I would give anything to be in a climate with non-stop rain for a week. The grass here is brown, flowers are wilting, foliage is parched: so different from the winter/early spring flora back East. And yet, there is beauty to be found: even in this scorching, arid climate.

Now, what are our GGW Regular Contributors doing for the month of August?

Nan’s book, The Perennial Care Manual: A Plant-by-Plant Guide: What To Do and When To Do It was recently published. I may be a bit biased because I love Nan, think she’s an incredible gardener, writer and human being AND I wrote the foreword for the book. But in spite of all of the aforementioned, I have read and reviewed dozens and dozens of books and this one is right at the top of my list. This is what I wrote about it for CBS Radio News:

 “A recently published book, The Perennial Care Manual: A  Plant-by-Plant Guide: What To Do And When To Do It is one of the best all around perennial gardening books that I’ve come across in recent years. Nan Ondra, the author of over a dozen gardening books, does a masterful job of offering in-depth information on everything about perennials that any level gardener would want to know. From planning an easy-care perennial garden, to what needs to be done season by season, along with growing tips and propagating your favorite plants, dealing with any problems along the way, and a Perennial Plant Guide, within the pages of this almost 400 page book, it’s all there. This is a must-have gardening book. Check it out at Amazon.”

Nan writes: “I’d also like to remind GGW readers in the Delaware Valley area that the Hardy Plant Society/Mid-Atlantic Group will be holding their annual Fall Gardeners’ Market in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on August 22. It’s a great source of cool plants, tools, and other garden-related items. For more information and the complete list of vendors, check out the HPS/MAG web site.”

And one of our Calfornia Regular Contributors, Debra, has this to say:

“I’m going over the galleys of my forthcoming book, Succulent Container Gardens (a Timber Press January 2010 release). Look for my article in the latest addition of Organic Gardening magazine about a Southern California homeowner who created a gorgeous, drought tolerant garden that also minimizes the threat of wildfire. And if you live in the San Diego area, now is the time to register for my class on Firewise/Waterwise Landscaping to be held at Quail Botanical Gardens in September.”

Chanticleer-blue Adirondack chairs and hydrangeas in July

I’ll be in Assisi, Italy next week for a conference but I hope to spend a day in Rome photographing gardens. I’m also in the process of doing an interview on Piet Oudolf, the renowned Dutch garden designer. Piet has been more than generous with his time chatting with me, as have two of his colleagues and friends: Jacqueline van der Koert and Noel Kingsbury. The article will be published right here at GGW, so be on the lookout for it.

And this exciting news from our friend, Susi Torre-Bueno, who has been instrumental in organizing what looks to be a fantastic Pacific Horticulture Symposium: on October 3 and 4 in Santa Barbara, called “Gardening Under Mediterranean Skies VII: Lessons In Sustainable Gardening.”  If I’m able to schedule my trip to Philadelphia around that time, I’ll be rushing to the West Coast for this weekend. It sounds too good (and important) not to attend! You can learn more about it at Pacific Horticulture. Any questions? Contact:

And as you may have have noticed on our left hand front page, we have become involved with Kiva, a non-profit organization that is doing some incredible work. Please take the time to see what Kiva  is all about and join GGW’s team in supporting their efforts.

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at

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Fran Sorin
4 comments… add one

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Sunita August 1, 2009, 5:13 am

“A climate with non-stop rain for a week” … hmm, maybe India? We’re in the middle of our monsoon season right now and are getting our first break from the rains after about 2-3 weeks.
Aren’t the rains beautiful?

Sunita August 1, 2009, 5:15 am

BTW, maybe you should take a look at your Feed or whatever is responsible for your post not showing up on Blotanical. I just tried reading it from the Picks page but got a “cannot be displayed” page and had to open a new tab to get here.

Helen at Toronto Gardens August 1, 2009, 9:05 pm

Thanks for the book tips. I find it hard to resist a good gardening book.

Sylvia (England) August 3, 2009, 8:36 am

Fran, lovely post. While we in the UK have had a lot of rain and it feels like it is non-stop we have had a few hours of grey sky and sun in between! I have ordered Nan’s book, last month but Amazon UK seem to be having problems getting it, so I will have to wait a bit longer – sigh. I look forward to the interview with Piet Oudolf, he always has something interesting to say and I enjoy Noel Kingsbury’s books and blog.

Hope you get some rain soon. Best wishes Sylvia (England)

Dear Sylvia-
Thanks for your kind words. I’ve heard from both Noel and our web designers from Turtle Reality (who are in England) about your weather. It’s funny, all the times that I’ve been to England…where there is rain, followed by sun, followed by more rain, was refreshing: even though it became problematic in seeing gardens at a given time. BUT, my sense is for alot of people who live in your country, it can become a bit gloomy aftrr awhille.

Nan’s book is worth waiting will give you PLENTY to read, especially throughout the winter. And yes, Piet Oudolf is extraordinary and Noel Kingsbury, verbally prolific with much to say as welll. He is participating in our Q and A over the next couple of months.

I appreciate your interest in what is going on here at GGW. And good luck with all of the rain…..I know the weeds are disconcerting, to say the least! Fran

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