Marty's Garden, January 2015


My three bookcases, neatly lined up catty-corner on the wall to hide my desk from the rest of the basement, are right in front of the cable outlet. Since we had satellite TV for years their placement was just fine but now I need access to this outlet. It’s time to empty the bookcases from 30+ years of accumulated gardening books and magazines. My desk standing right behind it and cobbled together from various pieces purchased at Ikea could be made a bit smaller. Soon the floor in the basement is littered with stacks of books and magazines as well as everything which once stood on my desk. It looked like my desk and bookcases had exploded all over the floor! Then the “cable guy” came and successfully provided us  with internet access, phone and TV. Now it was time to re-shelve the books and get my desk back in order.


While co-workers, nieces and nephews (and likely most of the world) have embraced e-readers and e-books, I still, stubbornly, cling to paper. I like the way the book feels in my hand, the turn of a page, the quiet reading of a book curled up on the couch. Oh, I have an e-book too, ONE! And it is a very good one at that; Michael Dirr’s Tree and Shrub finder. It allows me to find a tree or shrub for a specific location (wet, dry, sunny, shade, certain zone) and with certain characteristics (height, size, multiple seasons of interest etc.) within seconds. It lets me save favorites for a quick recall and overall it is a very good read. I can search by Latin name or the common name or just look for certain features. I also have the exact same book on my bookshelf at home; bought for a tree identification class at Rutgers. It’s heavy, with lots of pictures (some of which are not in the E-version) and still an equally good read. I have yet to find another book I would want to purchase for my tablet. Instead, my bi-weekly trip to the library allows me to search the shelves for something I want to read or just a place to sit and read a few magazines for an hour or so.


 messy basement


When I didn’t have that many books yet I shelved them … by height. I knew every book and knew where to find them, and it looked so … neat. Then the collection grew and it became harder to find something specific. I re-shelved according to subject: all books about roses together, tulip books and other bulb books together, single subjects (annuals, clematis, dahlia, ferns, hostas etc.) together in alphabetical order by subject. General gardening books got their own shelves, while the garden design books now have their very own (smallest) bookcase. Then there are the shelves devoted to perennials, the one shelf with pond-books and the two shelves with books about gardeners, specific gardens or just stories about gardens or plants (Tulip Fever and Tulipomania, both great books about the tulip mania which occurred around the 1630s in Holland and the subsequent crash of the market in 1637 are among those on my shelves).



As I was going through the process of re-shelving I also discovered a few duplicate books. These will be taken to our garden club and a few members will go home with my extras. Hopefully they find them as useful as I do. It took me several evenings and one weekend to put the basement back in order, re-shelve and re-work my office area. It allowed me a quick glimpse at most of my books, remembering old favorites and coming across many that deserve another look. As we make our way through this looooong month I am starting to look forward to the next one; February, when work at the corporate office really slows down for me and I will go back to work two days a week. The same month when there is still very little happening outdoors in our area and I can take my time going through these favorites and imagine myself in the glorious gardens pictured within.