Posts Tagged gardening

Garden for Wildlife

Janet Ulrey, Adult Services Librarian

Gardens are a wonderful way of gaining joy from the outside world. The visual beauty of flowers and plants is pleasing to the eye, but when a butterfly drops in for a visit, another dimension is added to heighten your gratification. It doesn’t matter if you have an apartment balcony or a 20-acre farm, a garden that attracts beautiful wildlife and helps restore habitat can be created. The month of May is “Garden for Wildlife” month, so, it is a fitting time to plant your own wildlife-friendly garden. Find significant resources at the library to help you get started.

“Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants” by Douglas Tallamy, will get you off to a great start. Tallamy indicates that the gardener plays an important role in the management of our nation’s wildlife. The plants in your garden attract insects which are necessary to attract wildlife. He tells us which particular insects are best to have in your garden and what particular plants will lure them. This is a comprehensive book that will also help you decide which native plants will work best for your area to draw in desired wildlife.

What is more native to the garden than the bee? “The Bee-Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-Filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity” by Kate Frey, is filled with beautiful photos. Frey tells us that spending time in a bee garden can be a source of pleasure, as well as therapy in your own backyard. Bee-friendly gardens also attract butterflies, moths, bats, and hummingbirds. It’s important to remember that bees provide many benefits, and they only sting when provoked.

Wildlife that you expect to see in the backyard are birds. “Backyard Birding: Using Natural Gardening to Attract Birds” by Julie Zickefoose, explains what type of plants you’ll need for different types of birds. The plants invite birds to the yard because of the food or shelter that they provide. Water is especially important to keep birds coming back, and Zickefoose shares some creative ways for you to supply the water they need. No matter which birds frequent your backyard, the experience of sharing your plot of earth with them will be rewarding.

Whether you want to attract birds, bats, or butterflies, “Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden: Creating Backyard and Balcony Habitats for Wildlife” by Catherine Johnson is an impressive asset. She not only shares which plants you should grow to entice the wildlife of your choice, but also gives simple instructions for building feeders, nesting boxes, and arbors.

The garden is an awe-inspiring place for children to discover nature. In April Pulley Sayre’s book “Touch a Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening with Kids”, simple steps are given that families can follow to create their own wildlife habitat. April reminds us that sound is often the first clue to the presence of wildlife. Children learn to listen, then look for the creatures that have tickled their ears. She also points out that the winter garden is a place of discovery; footprints in the snow give substantial clues to the wildlife that visit and can be a magnificent source of entertainment. Sharing life in a garden with children is sure to be lots of fun.

In this book, “Nature-Friendly Garden: Creating a Backyard Haven for Plants, Wildlife, and People” by Marlene Condon, the author not only gives insight on how to attract the right kind of insects, but also gives guidance in selecting the right binoculars for up-close viewing. Ms. Condon likes to use nesting boxes in her garden. As a result, she has seen eastern screech-owls, southern flying squirrels, and opossum take-up residency in them. She tells us that a gardener must plan to coexist with wildlife as well as their predators to make gardens imitative of the natural world.

There are many other selections available at the library to help you attract and enjoy wildlife in your own backyard. Why not get started today?

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News, Parents

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It’s Gardening Time!

by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

The tulips, redbuds, and forsythia of early spring have given way to lilacs, bridal wreath, and iris. It’s time to clean out the planting beds, wander home stores and nurseries, and browse catalogs in search of plants and design ideas to brighten your flowering garden spaces. Manhattan Public Library has a wealth of gardening books ready to inspire you with great ideas, from garden design and soil preparation to plant selections and garden structures.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Colorful, sturdy and easy-to-care-for, with long-lasting blooms perennials are the mainstays of the flower garden.  “Essential Perennials: The Complete Reference to 2700 Perennials for the Home Garden” by gardening experts Ruth Clausen and Thomas Christopher is a gorgeous book and a comprehensive A to Z guide for choosing, planting, tending, and enjoying perennials.

Other outstanding guides for perennials in your garden are: “Perennial Combinations: Stunning Combinations that Make Your Garden Look Fantastic Right from the Start” by C. Colston Burrell; “The Well-tended Perennial Garden” by Tracy DiSabato-Aust; and “The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden” by Roy Diblik.

Enthusiasts for the garden’s greatest perennial all-stars can find inspiration in books that focus on their favorite flowers, for example:  “Landscaping with Daylilies: A Comprehensive Guide for the Use of Daylilies in the Garden” by Oliver Billingslea; “Right Rose, Right Place: 359 Perfect Choices for Beds, Borders, Hedges and Screens, Containers, Fences, Trellises, and More” by Peter Schneider; and “A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts” by Kelly D. Norris.  (Note to iris lovers:  the annual Iris Day at the KSU Gardens, hosted by the Flint Hills Iris Society, will be next Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 10th.)      

For the ultimate in carefree gardening with a big payback, check out “Plantiful: Start Small, Grow Big with 150 Plants that Spread, Self-sow, and Overwinter” by Kristin Green.  Or create your own prairiescape with“Prairie-style Gardens: Capturing the Essence of the American Prairie Wherever You Live” by Lynn Steiner; “Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes” by Sally Wasowski; or “The American Meadow Garden” by John Greenlee.

Gardening space limited to your doorstep, balcony, windowsill, or hanging planter? “Small Space Garden Ideas” by Philippa Pearson is packed with creative, smart ideas to make even the tiniest garden space lush and full. Look for more ideas for tight garden spaces in “The Ultimate Book of Small Gardens” by Graham Rice, “Container Gardening” by Hank Jenkins, or “The Potted Garden” by Daria Price Bowman.

Embellishing your outdoor space can add dramatically to the beauty and impact of your gardening efforts.  For creative and inspired ideas, take a look at: “Handmade for the Garden : 75 Ingenious Ways to Enhance your Outdoor Space with DIY Tools, Pots, Supports, Embellishments, and More” by Susan Guagliumi; “Salvage Style for the Garden: Simple Outdoor Projects Using Reclaimed Treasures” by Marcianne Miller;  “The Well-decorated Garden: Making Outdoor Ornaments and Accents” by Laura Dover Doran; or “Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting and More” by Lorene Forkner.

Perhaps you’re more of a philosophical or armchair gardener?  One who applauds the effort and appreciates the outcomes, but, say, at a distance?  As an intellectual rather than a physical exercise?  Not a problem; the Library has you covered.

Onward and Upward in the Garden” by Katharine White is a collection of her classic essays originally written for the gardening column of The New Yorker magazine and now newly reissued, a book the publisher called a “sharp-eyed appreciation of the green world of growing things…and of the dreams that gardens inspire.”

Or check out “Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverley Nichols,” about which one reviewer wrote, “Be prepared for delight…you won’t want to put it down…and you may never look at gardens in the same way again.”



Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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Classic reading for lovers of English gardens, village life, and country houses

index4LBRRIONIn the 1930s, Englishman Beverley Nichols wrote about his adventure buying and restoring a dilapidated country house and garden, including his introduction to village life and the various neighbors who helped, hindered, and critiqued his efforts. 

His writing is lively, hilarious, and inspiring – perfect summer reading.  In 2006 upon the reissue of these books, Home and Garden described Nichols as being “as observant as Jane Austen, as witty as Oscar Wilde, and as sentimental as James Herriott.  He also happens to be as funny, timely, and un-P.C. as Jon Stewart.”

Get to know Beverley Nichols through his gardening trilogy – Merry Hall; Laughter on the Stairs; Sunlight on the Lawn  – and through the Allways trilogy, which includes Down the Garden Path; A Thatched Roof; A Village in a Valley.  Or try a new compilation of his writings, Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverly Nichols.

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Irises on Mother’s Day

BigBlueEyes-SDBEach year on Mother’s Day, The Flint Hills Iris Society invites visitors to view the spectacular array of blooming irises at the KSU Gardens.  The Iris Collection includes hundreds of varieties, from tall bearded to Dwarf and Siberian. Members of the Iris Society will be on hand to answer questions about the care and planting of irises. Not that it’s possible to choose, but visitors will also get to vote on their favorite variety and the top five irises will be announced at a later date.

The KSU Gardens are located at 1500 Denison Ave and are open from dawn to midnight. Parking is available in the lot off of Denison, just northeast of the Conservatory.

To learn more about Irises, check out one of the many gardening books here at MPL, such as Irises: A Gardeners Encyclopedia by Claire Austin.

purple iris from KSU gardens

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The Joys of Gift Books

The Joys of Gift Books
By Marcia Allen
Technical Services & Collections Manager
Manhattan Public Library

Throughout the year, Manhattan Public Library is the recipient of a great many gifts.  Often, donors will designate a determined amount to be spent and allow staff to make selections.  Other times, the donors have specific titles in mind and provide lists of materials they wish to be purchased.  Either way, staff members at the library are happy to accept those new materials, and gift plates are added to inside covers of books to indicate the donor or nature of the gift.
I bring this up because the library has recently received a lovely gift that arrived at the perfect time of year.  Town and Country Garden Club has once again presented a very generous gift which allowed for the purchase of ten beautiful gardening books that many folks throughout the area will truly enjoy.  If you are one of the many novice or accomplished gardeners dying to get back outside to dig and to plant, you’ll want to peruse the following:
“American Horticultural Society of Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers” edited by Christopher Brickell is an exquisite sourcebook.  This is an updated classic produced by Dorling Kindersley that offers design plans, hundreds of photographs of varieties, and detailed advice on care and planting. In fact, I don’t think there’s much in the gardening world that is not included in these 744 pages.  You might want to consult this excellent reference before even getting started!
“Gardening Projects for Kids” by Jenny Hendy is a parent’s delight.  This kid-friendly book has just the right layout and interest to get children outside and enthused about their own plantings and arrangement.  None of the tasks are labor-intensive, and all are lovely to view.  Some even encourage the building of simple little walls and color-coordinated designs.  There’s enough here to alleviate summer’s boredom and offer kids projects to please.
“Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie” by Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roosa is a reprint of an older book, with a fresh, new layout and full-page color photographs of each plant.  Common and Latin names are included, and the origins of those names are explained.  And you’ll be surprised at all the unique uses that Native American and pioneer folks found for these plants.  This is a perfect companion for a long walk in the country.
“Seed to Seed” by Suzanne Ashworth is a vegetable-grower’s delight.  This handy book encourages the thrifty practice of saving seeds for next year’s planting.  Ashworth’s book offers detailed information about 160 different vegetables, along with instructions on collecting, storing and planting.  All of the detailed steps have been tested and refined by the author and a wide network of experienced gardeners.
“Fresh Flower Arranging” by Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks goes far beyond simply gathering a handful of flowers and placing them in a favorite vase.  The authors open the book with basic guidelines for the best containers, explain the accepted theory of flower colors, and discuss the shaping involved in an arrangement.  From there, they devote chapters to numbered sets of directions and breathtakingly gorgeous photos of completed arrangements.  It may sound odd, but one striking arrangement is an arresting mix of dahlias, sedum, broccoli florets and spring onions!
“Designing and Creating a Cottager Garden” by Gail Harland is a gardener’s dream.  Besides the expected layout design and construction tips, the book offers different seasonal views of well-planned growing spaces that offer year-long beauty.  In addition, the suggested plant varieties are grouped by tendencies to climb, cluster, or adorn borders of a growing space.  And the plant directory at the back of the book is stellar.
 index (13)“Flowers” by Carolyne Roehm is a tribute to the beauty of flowers.  Missing from this book are the guidelines and suggestions of so many other gardening books.  This one is just plain pretty.  Full-page photographs of incredible flowers and the accompanying text by professional photographer Roehm make this a volume that transfixes the eye.  Nature’s colors at their best.
This is not a complete listing of Town and Country Garden Club’s latest generous gift,
but it gives readers an idea of excellent new resources for those who must be planting.  For these gardening books and hundreds of others in the library’s collections, come by and check us out.  Your garden awaits.

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Sustainable Gardening in Kansas

indexBy Judi Nechols, Adult Services Librarian

Gardening in Kansas can be challenging at times—heat in summer, extreme cold and wind in winter, heavy rains or drought conditions. All of these factors combine to make it difficult to develop a thriving garden in our area. Using plants and techniques that are adapted to our local climate makes gardening easier, less costly and more sustainable. Choosing the right plants for the right place in your yard helps reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, pesticides and watering, as well as providing plants beneficial to native pollinating insects and birds.

Manhattan Public Library has several books that offer advice specific to gardening in the Midwest.

The Complete Guide to Western Plains Gardening by Lynn Steiner offers practical information and step-by-step photographs to help you through the basic techniques of gardening. Written for areas of the Midwest from Southern Canada through Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas, this book can help you choose just the right plants for your garden.

Prairie Lands Gardener’s Guide by Cathy Barash features 167 plants suggested for our area for a successful garden, ranging from flowering annuals and perennials to ornamental grasses. Full color photographs of each plant accompany advice on planting, growing and care of each plant, as well as sun requirements and, information on birds and other wildlife attracted by the plantings.

Perennials for Midwestern Gardens: Proven Plants for the Heartland by Anthony Kahtz contains 140 in-depth plant profiles as well as 260 additional recommendations. Each plant entry gives the  common name of the plant as well as descriptions of its flowers, soil and sun requirements, propagation, insect or disease problems, and recommendations on where and how to plant.

Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens: 200 Drought Tolerant Choices for All Climates by Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden is a guide to all types of plants selected for their wide adaptability. Although this book suggests plants for gardens across the U.S.,each of the entries discusses soil and sun needs, mature size, creative design ideas, and recommendations for companion plants.
Their suggestions make creating gardens that require less water easier and more practical.

Armitage’s Native Plants for North American Gardens by Allan M. Armitage is an excellent authoritative guide to native plants. Concise information on hundreds of species of native perennials and annuals is discussed, with entries including descriptions of plants and their habitats, hardiness and growing requirements. In addition, the author has included internet sites, addresses of nurseries, and other recommended publications for further information.

Xeriscape Handbook:  A How-To Guide to Natural, Resource-Wise Gardening by Gayle Weinstein focuses on growing plants in arid and semi-arid areas, conserving natural resources in our gardens, creating an awareness of the natural environment and applying the principles of xeriscaping to your garden. Besides suggestions for selecting the correct plants for the area, the author also discusses the landscaping and maintenance techniques that will help your low-water garden thrive.

Xeriscape Color Guide: 100 Water-wise Plants for Gardens and Landscapes by David Winger offers suggestions for adding color to your garden through all seasons of the year. This is a perfect book for gardeners wanting to conserve water and mix colors and textures of flowers, shrubs and trees in their landscape.

In addition to browsing the books  available at Manhattan Public Library, the best resource for local gardening advice is our Riley County K-State Research and Extension office, located in Room 220 at 110 Courthouse Plaza. Extension agents can offer lawn and gardening advice and have many KSU Extension publications available. Stop by their offices or check their web site to find a wealth of information about gardening in Kansas. Their publication “Low Maintenance Landscaping” is available online.

Check out one of our books or stop by the Riley County Extension office to learn more about sustainable and low maintenance gardening using the best plants for our area and have a beautiful garden even in the most difficult Kansas growing conditions.

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Spring Planting Song

Going along with our April theme of “Spring,” here is a fun and easy song to sing with your child. It would be simple to incorporate actions, so improvise, and let us know if you come up with more fun verses!

This book includes the original version of the song.












Sung to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”

The farmer plants her seeds

The farmer plants her seeds

Hi-ho, the dairy-o

Tha farmer plants her seeds.

More verses:

The rain begins to fall…

The sun begins to shine…

The seeds begin to grow…

The plants grow big and tall…


Did you know? The old nursery rhyme, “The Farmer and the Dell,” is said to be almost 200 years old.

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, Parents

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