Gardening in the New Normal

While the unprecedented heat wave that brought triple-digit temperatures to the Pacific Northwest has passed, it has left its mark on the region’s trees and plants. Fir trees with brown patches, rhododendrons with scorched leaves and grass the color of straw dot the landscape. Since we should expect wetter winters and drier summers in the future, it’s a good time to reconsider how we garden.

In Gardening for Summer-Dry Climates, Nora Harlow provides suggestions and solutions specific to Pacific Northwest gardeners. A large portion of the book is devoted to plants that can withstand hot, dry summers; and to preventative measures, such as ways to harvest rainwater and landscaping that minimizes the risk of forest fires, making this a must-read for serious gardeners.

Olivier Filippi, known in France as the “dry gardening guru,” brings his expertise to Planting Design for Dry Gardens. Instead of water-hogging lawns that require constant maintenance, Filippi provides gardeners with alternatives such as ground covers and flowering meadows, ornamental grasses and shrubs, and gravel gardens that simultaneously highlight attractive, drought-resistant plants while keeping weeds at bay.

Xeriscaping — gardening or landscaping that reduces or eliminates the need to irrigate plants — has been widely practiced in desert and Mediterranean-type climates; as Pacific Northwest summers get drier and hotter, it’s a practice worth considering. In The Water-Saving Garden, Texas-based Pam Penick suggests drought-tolerant plants that are showstoppers along with practical solutions like grading soil and embracing pots and containers. In the section “Oasis or Mirage? Creating the illusion of water in the garden,” Penick “squeezes water from stone” with ideas for using glass and other materials to enhance your garden in surprising ways.

~posted by Frank

#BookBingoNW2021 Black Joy

A short list of good reads that can be applied to the Black Joy 2021 Book Bingo square. These are funny, romantic stories that follow Black characters whose best lives find them.

Girl Gurl Grrrl: On womanhood and belonging in the age of Black girl magic by Kenya Hunt, deputy editor of the fashion magazine Grazia UK, is an anthology of essays about her life and career, sharing the joys and trials of being a Black American in the UK. 

28-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate in Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers, having just completed her PhD in astronomy. A straight-A high achiever, she is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman she doesn’t know, until she does exactly that… Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2021 Black Joy”

Pregnancy During Pandemic

The pandemic was a very odd time to be pregnant. All the ideas I had about community and gathering and connection was very different, but also in a way I didn’t have to share this time with anyone besides just my husband and I. I had a small bubble I could reach out to, I could share what I wanted to share, and read what I wanted to read without that added pressure of what peoples idea of this time is supposed to be. If there are silver linings to this – that would be it.

Here are a few books that spoke to me:

Before

motherhood so whiteMotherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America by Nefertiti Austin

The thing about being a mother is that it’s different for everyone and hearing stories outside my world view was something I sought before I found out I was pregnant. Especially in a country that views parenthood from a white lens. Nefertiti finds her way to motherhood by adopting a Black child and faces the stereotypes of single Black motherhood, of the foster care system, and raising a child in this America. Continue reading “Pregnancy During Pandemic”

Book Group Picks, July 2021

Are you in a book discussion group, and looking for affordable ways to supply your group with books to discuss? The library is here for you! Each month or so, we’ll share a varied handful of titles, any one of which would make for terrific discussion, and each of which – at the time of posting – has a dozen or more copies currently available at our various branches. Let’s get started with this month’s batch:

Just Us: An American Conversation, by Claudia Rankine.
“The murkiness as we exist alongside each other calls us forward. I don’t want to forget that I am here; at any given moment we are, each of us, next to any other capable of both the best and the worst our democracy has to offer.” 44 print, 6 eBook copies available.

Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu.
“…we made it our own place – Chinatown. A place for preservation and self-preservation; give them what they feel what’s right, is safe; make it fit the idea of what is out there. Chinatown and indeed being Chinese is and always has been, from the very beginning a construction, a performance of features, gestures, culture and exoticism, invention/reinvention of stylization.” Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. 20 print copies available. Continue reading “Book Group Picks, July 2021”

Let’s Swim!

This return of warmer weather has me thinking about swimming – dipping my feet in a lake,* seeking out a pool. I’m still feeling cautious about being in proximity to people, even as pandemic precautions wane, which means that while I scope out swimming spots I’m also finding books to satisfy my urge.

Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey by Roger Deakin
Originally published in Britain in 1999 and now being published for the first time in the US, Waterlog is Deakin’s thoughtful reflection on swimming in wild places. Inspired by John Cheever’s story “The Swimmer,” Deakin began with a dip in the moat behind his farmhouse, and then conceived of a plan to swim the waterways of Britain, pristine and polluted alike. Swimming in seas, springs, rivers and ponds, he reflects on the history and geography of the waterways he visits, and on the general responsibility of environmental stewardship and maintenance of natural places that are open to all. Deakin’s work launched an international “wild swimming” movement; it’s good to see it published on our shores. (For a fantastic, in-depth review, check out Anelise Chen’s story in The Atlantic).

Continue reading “Let’s Swim!”