Golden anniversary gardening bookIt's not a sexy book...

ON THE HOME FRONT

January 09, 1994|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Staff Writer

Golden anniversary gardening book

It's not a sexy book, with lots of gorgeous photographs, but it may be the most useful gardening book you buy this year.

Fifty years ago Wilbur Youngman, a garden reporter, created the booklet that eventually became "The Washington Star Garden Book." He continued it for the next 40 years, even after the Star newspaper stopped publishing. These days the book has a new author, Deborah Fialka, and is being read by a third generation of area gardeners. Its value lies in its specific information about what works best in this climate and this soil. The large, 256-page paperback discusses when, what and how to plant in local yards and gardens and how to care for them.

The book has up-to-date, practical information collected from local extension agents, members of garden societies and the staffs of local arboretums, public gardens and nurseries. And, in this 50th anniversary edition, Ms. Fialka has added sections on the newest trends in gardening, such as bonsai, dried flowers and water gardens.

"The Washington Star Garden Book" (Washington Book Trading Company) is available at local bookstores for $15.95. When Eliot Rosenblum of the international design firm Rosenblum-Harb redid a living room recently, linen was the only fabric he used. "It looks so natural," he says. "I don't mind the wrinkles, it has no shine and I like the weave."

At the fabric market in New York last month, linen was by far the most prominent fabric shown. It's been popular, according to Linda Jones, consultant to Masco Home Furnishings, but right now it's having an unusually strong revival.

The use of linen is part of a new direction for interior design -- comfortable but a bit more elegant than the American Country that's dominated the industry in recent years. With the &r heightened interest in natural fabrics and textures, designers are using linen for slipcovers and draperies, and in upholstery-weight to cover sofas and chairs.

But what about those wrinkles? Margaret Russell, design and decoration editor of Elle Decor, simply doesn't worry about the rumpled look. Many of the upholstery linens are blended with cotton or rayon, so you don't get the harsh wrinkles. "For window treatments, you get soft wrinkles, which are fine. And now that slipcovers are getting tighter and more tailored, the fabric is pulled taut."

"Unique" is an overused word, but it just might apply to Country Petals. The Aberdeen herb shop and gardens are owned by Sharon Magee, who sells herbs, flowers for decorating, a few antiques and what she calls "herbal pottery."

She makes these dishes, plaques, wind chimes and garden markers herself, hand-building them from a fine white earthenware clay. Then she presses them with herbs or antique seals and fires, paints and fires them again.

A 6-inch oval plaque with an original design and the quotation "Friends & Herbs Are Everlasting" costs $18. A square 10-by-10-inch platter is $48. And an herbal heart necklace sells for $10.

If you don't want to drive to Aberdeen to visit Country Petals, you can call (410) 836-2100 to get a mail-order brochure of Ms. Magee's herbal pottery. The shop, open by appointment only, is at 2724 Carsins Run Road.

The holidays are over; you have nothing to look forward to but another two months of bad weather. But if you start your paperwhite narcissus soon, you'll have an early taste of spring in about four or five weeks.

A long-time favorite bulb for forcing, paperwhites have delicate clusters of snow-white flowers, lots of green foliage and a lovely fragrance. Even a beginning gardener can grow them with ease.

Buy your bulbs at a local garden store or through a catalog like Smith & Hawken. (The order number is [800] 776-3336.) Place the bulbs in a container with potting soil, sand, gravel or stones. Nestle the bulbs in the material and water. (The top third of the bulb should remain uncovered.) Set the container in a cool place (50 to 55 degrees) for a week or two until the roots develop. Keep wet. When foliage appears, move to a location that offers bright light and temperatures of 60 to 68 degrees. If the stems become very long and start to topple, you can tie a ribbon around them.

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