Favorite Picks for 2010

– Posted in: Garden Musings

When I first started assembling information for this post, I thought I was going to write about The Best Gardening Gifts for 2010. But you know how it is on the web; one thing leads to another.

This is where I landed; with a list that consists of a hodgepodge of projects, products, services, institutions and publications, all that I have seen or used (except for one product) and which I unabashedly recommend. This in no way is meant to be a ‘best of’ list. It is strictly ‘my favorites’. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Botanical Garden Research: ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN

“Their active captive breeding and research program promotes the conservation of amphibians. “More than one-third of the world’s amphibian species are considered threatened or endangered. Recently, an emerging infectious disease known as the amphibian chytrid fungus has been shown to wipe out massive numbers of amphibians from pristine natural locations in many places around the world. This disease is currently unstoppable in the wild, but treatable in captivity.”

A big thank you goes out to Rhett Turner of Red Sky Productions who brought Atlantic Botanical Garden’s research and conservation efforts to my attention. Rhett’s work as a producer of environmental films is noteworthy. 


Garden Magazine: THE GARDEN

The Garden is a monthly magazine published by Royal Horticultural Society. This is the ‘go to’ magazine for gardeners who are more interested in reading a publication that is chock full of useful information .  It is an unheralded publication in the U. S. market; it continually surprises and informs me. I wouldn’t be without it. And hey, who wouldn’t want to be a member of the Royal Horticultural Society. Even if you don’t make use it, you get bragging rights. To order, click on: RHS MEMBERSHIP.


Botanical Garden Membership: BROOKLYN BOTANICAL GARDEN.

Even if you don’t live in NYC, it feels great to support a botanical garden that is committed to community involvement, teaching, research and educating children. It’s an innovative 100 year old institution. As a member, you receive 4 BBG soft covered books annually; all with information on useful subjects and an easy read.


Membership Garden (non-botanical) Organization: GREEN ROOFS FOR HEALTHY CITIES

If you’re interested in learning more about green roofs and vertical gardens, becoming a member of Green Roofs is worth every penny. All of the latest information on the green roof industry, course offerings, conferences, publications and access to their online magazine is an opportunity to immerse yourself into the ever growing world of green roofs.


Vertical Wall 2010: LONGWOOD GARDENS

The unveiling of their new indoor vertical wall in October has brought Longwood Gardens into the forefront of the gardening world. Located in its East Conservatory Plaza wing, the wall is the 4,072 sq ft, displacing the title of North America’s largest green wall from the PNC Bank building in Pittsburgh by over 70 percent. The green wall was designed by GSky. It is made up of over 47,000 plants.

LongwoodGardensGreenWall6-hallway view


Green Roof’s  selection of winners offers a look at some of the latest and best.

Intensive Institutional
Project: ASLA Headquarters Green Roof
Award Recipient: Conservation Design Forum


Efficient and cutting edge Recycling Repository: BIG BELLY

This invention shows what one individual can do when they have the desire to make a change in the world. Big Belly is gaining momentum in cities throughout America. Its efficiency, cutting edge technology, environmentally sound and monetary paybacks are enormous. Hopefully, the word will get out as other cities learn about it. It is a hands down winner in my book.I wrote about it in an earlier post on The Best Cities for Recycling.


 Innovative and User Friendly Public Garden: THE HIGHLINE

I’ve sung its praises in an earlier post. Suffice it to say that even in a city like New York, it dazzles and boggles the mind of residents and visitors throughout the city.  With the second phase of construction beginning this month, The Highline will expand its presence above the streets of Manhattan. It is quickly becoming a NYC Landmark.

High Line Garden in NYC 013

 Celebratory Garden: CHANTICLEER

This is a garden that makes me smile every time I visit. Chanticleer celebrates the artistry and beauty of plants and the landscape. With an able Executive Director, Bill Thomas, and a creative and skillful team of horticulturists, Chanticleer maintains a good balance of playfulness and intensity.

Chanticller-hillside garden

Art As Part of The Urban Landscape: PHILADELPHIA’S MURAL ARTS PROGRAM 

Philadelphia has over 3000 murals strutting their stuff on walls and throughout the streets. This is thanks to the vision, tenacity and creativity of one woman, Jane Golden, whose belief that ‘Art Changes Lives’ transformed a nascent anti-graffiti project into a world renowned multidimensional arts program. This is a jaw-dropping inspirational program that other cities are now modeling.

FeaturedAssetStream-Philadelphia Mural Arts


It is an outstanding organization that helps women who are survivors of wars become active citizens, learning how to support themselves and their families. You can choose from 4 categories: organic farming, job skills training, education and animals. It’s a win win proposition for everyone. And if you want to treat yourself to a very special gift this Christmas become a sponsor.


Moderately Priced Gardening Gifts: FLORA GRUBB.

Flora Grubb  offers plenty of gifts  that come in under $30. that will thrill gardeners and non-gardeners alike. Order quickly to get them sent in time for Christmas.

Lassi cup with succulent plant


My GGW colleague , Debra Lee Baldwin, never ceases to amaze me with her constant flow of creativity. Her new online store, SUCCULENT CHIC, is filled with moderately priced products: succulent calendars, mouse pads, holiday greeting cards, stocking stuffers and watercolor painted t-shirts, all with Debra’s trademark succulent photos and now, some with her watercolor paintings.


 Seed Catalogue : SEEDS OF CHANGE

There are several other seed catalogues that I enjoy and order from. But Seeds of Change, organic and with heirloom and new selections plus the yearly staples, keeps me engaged from the moment it shows up in my mailbox.


Online Source for Perennial Grasses: KURT BLUEMEL

He is known as one of the founding fathers of the perennial grass movement. A fantastic offering of large, healthy grasses at moderate prices.

11905-upper level-sweeping fall view-1.jpg-resized

 Online Source for Perennials and Semi Hardy Plants: DIGGING DOG NURSERY


2nd level garden-completed construction-2nd level-summer bloom-rev.and com.

A nursery that focuses on perennials and shrubs, Digging Dog’s specimens are hardy, healthy, good sized, moderate prices and with a selection that will delight. Their salvia offerings are outstanding.  

Book of 2010: BE LOVE NOW : THE PATH OF THE HEART, written by Ram Dass.

images-Ram Dass

Ram Dass  is a renowned spiritual teacher and writer has inspired spiritual seekers for over 4 decades. In this thoughtful and humble book filled with wisdom, Ram Dass shares what he has learned over the past 40 years with a humble, humorous and loving voice.  

Sort of a gardening (but not) Book of 2010:  SLOW LOVE , Dominique Browning


Dominique Browning, the Editor of the now defunct House and Gardens, knows how to write a riveting book. Her personal journey, in which gardening plays a prominent role, is open, authentic, and inspirational.

Movie That Depicts The American Landscape: A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT

p2_rrti_sony-A River Runs Through It

A combination of fly fishing, Montana and a compelling story directed by Robert Redford. It’s a classic.

Photos courtesy of: RHS, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Longwood Gardens, Brooklyn Botanical Garden,  Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program, Flora Grubb, Debra Lee Baldwin, Sony Pictures, Seeds of Change, Women for Women International and Amazon.

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 www.fransorin.com.

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Fran Sorin
4 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Frances December 13, 2010, 10:14 am

Fine choices, Frannie, thanks! I already take 2 British gardening mags, didn’t know about this one. Will have to look into it. As for the last one, the young Brad Pitt is quite a feast for the eyes in addition to the beautiful landscape! 🙂

Thanks. Am assuming that one of the English magazines you subscirbe to is Gardens Illustrated. What’s the other one?

Loree / danger garden December 13, 2010, 3:06 pm

What a fun random list!

Hi Loree,
i’m glad you enjoyed! Fran

Debra Lee Baldwin December 14, 2010, 1:09 pm

Frannie, what a super list. I can’t wait to read Slow Love. I’m blown away by the living wall at Longwood! Any list like this is subjective, reflecting the taste of the writer. Sweetie, yours is superb—and I’m not just sayin’ that because of the lovely shout-out you gave Succulent Chic. (Much appreciated.)

Thanks Debra. It was alot of fun to do. And yes about Longwood….I’m sure we’re going to be reading much more about it over the next 6 months!

Christina Salwitz December 14, 2010, 1:40 pm

Lovely and varied group of ideas Debra! Maybe someday if I wish on the right star, I’ll be on your list. Not sure what for, but who knows. 🙂
Giving “Succulent Container Gardens” to a girlfriend for Christmas this year- points? LOL!

Hi, sweet Christina — You’re already on my list as a super designer, engaging writer/blogger and cherished Facebook friend! Incidentally, Fran Sorin wrote this post, not me, though it’s tempting to take credit for it ;+)– Debra

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