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The City Gardener's Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Small Space Gardening


Written with passion, enthusiasm, warmth & wit by former New York Times garden columnist Linda Yang, The City Gardener's Handbook offers solutions for every kind of small-space gardening challenge from an author who has experienced them all first-hand.

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Written with passion, enthusiasm, warmth & wit by former New York Times garden columnist Linda Yang, The City Gardener's Handbook offers solutions for every kind of small-space gardening challenge from an author who has experienced them all first-hand.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
As all urban gardeners know, in small spaces, every inch counts. This revised edition of former New York Times garden columnist Linda Yang's essential manual for urban gardeners shows how to create spectacular effects in even the most cramped city landscapes. Part horticulturist, part cheerleader, Yang suggests styles most city dwellers would never have thought possible, eschewing annuals for formal clipped hedges and woodlands. She also encourages readers to experiment and ignore admonitions that certain plants just can't thrive in the city. After all, any garden is a work in progress, and sometimes trial and error is the only way to go. (That advice applies to giving up, too -- Yang urges gardeners to be ruthless about getting rid of or moving plants that simply aren't working.)

City gardening -- and rooftop gardening in particular -- presents unique safety challenges. Instruction on keeping drainage clear and containers secure, as well as the reminder that roof leaks are almost inevitable, will help readers keep their gardens running smoothly and safely. High-rise-specific issues are also addressed, including tips on transporting large plants in the elevator and rigging up a hose to the kitchen faucet. For the lucky gardener with a yard, Yang provides ground cover lawn alternatives and warnings about getting soil tested for possible toxicity before planting edibles. Finally, the book offers vital information about the signs of pollution damage on plants and a rundown on garden pests that are indigenous to urban areas.

Yang's informative text is accompanied by photographs of sumptuous urban gardens (some including plans) and delicate line drawings of individual plants. Handy plant lists and a resource section round out this invaluable book. (Laura Wood)

Laura Wood is the Barnes & Science & Nature editor.

New York Times Book Review
"[A] crisp, comprehensive handbook...the unmistakable voice of experience."
—Anne Lovejoy, The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
"Compactly combines the virtues of extensive knowledge, organization, clear-eyed design, and—last but not least—a sympathetic, briskly dedicated authorial tone...conveys maximal information with minimal fuss."
Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580174497
  • Publisher: Storey Books
  • Publication date: 4/15/2002
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 340,866
  • Product dimensions: 7.06 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda Yang is known for her garden columns in the New York Times, which were widely syndicated from 1979-1995. Both her articles and her photographs have been published in numerous home and garden magazines, and she is the author of three books other than The City Gardener's Handbook. Her friendly, wise, and authoritative writing comes from a genuine love of gardening and from firsthand experiences that include "quite a bit of trial and more than one error." At present she tills one-fortieth of an acre of Manhattan, the area around the townhouse she shares with her husband.

Jane G. Pepper is president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

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Table of Contents

Foreword to the New Edition x
Foreword xiii
Preface xvii
1. Getting Started 3
A backward glance
Getting to know your place
Existing plants
The search for sun
A balcony ceiling
Assessing your pollutants
The soil
Coping with wind
The travel route
Beginning thoughts on design
The formal approach
A naturalistic view
Space with style
Garden Plans and Photographs 14
2. Nonplant Considerations 33
What goes on outside
What's underfoot
Coping with leaks
Paving surfaces
Something to sit on
Neighborly fences
Lattice patterns
Trompe l'oeil
Garden mirrors
On windy rooftops
Let there be light
3. Meet Nature's Dramatics Personae 49
All the garden's stage
The woody ones
Ornamental grasses
Tender perennials
Houseplants outside
Bulbs and their cousins
Herbal delights
Vines and climbers
Using leaners
And espaliers
Topiary whimsies
4. Narrowing the Choices: Some City Plants I've Known 65
Where to begin
The crossword puzzle approach
The leading players: splendid shrubs and terrific trees
The supporting cast: favorites for flowers, foliage, fragrance or flavor
Creative covers: climbers for walls and fences
Garden Plans and Photographs 94
5. Finding and Buying Your Plants 113
On temptation
Where hardy plants come from
Finding a nursery
The importance of roots
Container plants
B & B plants
Mail-order catalogues
The wild things
Learning your Latin
Facing a move
Gardening safely
6. The Secret Is in the Soil 129
Soil is not dirt
How much lightener
Restoring soil fertility
The soil conditioner
NPK, the big 3
Understanding the label
Fertilizer sources
The mystery of acidity and alkalinity
Plants for acid soil
Increasing pH
Analyzing soil
7. Containers for Summer and Winter 145
The windowbox
The quest for planters
Basics for building with wood
Use containers to create the space
Container gardens for winter
Where there's wind
Containers built for root pruning
Watch your weight
Happiness is a good container mix
Reducing soil weight
Preparing the "hole"
Be fearless
Garden Plans and Photographs 158
8. Planting and Other Earth-Shattering Ideas 177
An early beginning
Shrubs, small trees, hardy perennials
B & B plants
Spacing for now and then
Seedlings of flowers, veggies and herbs
The importance of mulch
The instant lawn
Plants to use as ground covers
The front-door garden
Useful invaders
9. Water Comes Not from Heaven Alone 191
The finger test
When to water
Roots in the ground
Roots in containers
Plants that tolerate moist soils
Plants with minimal water needs
Controll-ing soil moisture
The watering can
The hose
Keep those plants clean
A basic watering system
Watering containers when it's cold
The balcony ceiling
Use your snow
10. Continuing Through Autumn 205
End-of-season blues
Coping with compost
Humus without tears
Soil restoration
City plowing downstairs
And upstairs
Sampling autumn's splendor
Autumn alterations
A spring plot for bulbs
Plants that tolerate wind
A winter setting
11. City Girth Control 221
Nature's rampant growth
Controlling the woody crowd
Needle evergreens
Plants for hedges
Globes, pyramids and other topiary shapes
When you can't grow up
Beautiful weepers
The right tool
Pruning time
Root pruning container trees and shrubs
Compensating for root loss
Dwarf shrubs
Garden Plans and Photographs 238
12. Not Quite Eden 257
Behold the caterpillar
Controlling nature
Balancing nature
Getting to know some "good guys"
Discouraging undesirables
Choosing your weapon
A selection of pests
Pesticide application
And formulation
Air pollutants
Nonpathogenic problems
Plant diseases
The birds and bees
Poisonous plants
13. The City Gardener's Almanac 279
Early spring
Late spring
Early summer
Late summer
Early autumn
Late autumn
Afterword 285
Elizabeth Scholtz
Where to Find What by Mail 288
Finding suppliers
Smart shopping
Sources of garden furnishings
Garden ornaments
Tools and other essential gadgets
Soil tests
Natural controls and fertilizers
Garden plants
Seeds, perennials (may include annuals), ornamental shrubs and trees
The edible landscape
Tropicals and house-plants
Water plants, fish and aquatic supplies
Bibliography 299
With Gratitude 303
Index 304
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Gardening Information for City-Dwellers

    Most gardening books offer advice for people with large yards and multiple garden beds, leaving the city gardener to translate the information into their tiny yards and balcony containers. Here is a book where every page speaks to the specific problems of city gardening. All basic topics of gardening are covered from the perspective of limited space, limited sun and the unique city problem of no soil.

    The author, Linda Yang, writes with intelligence, humor and the experience gained first-hand from years of gardening on terraces, rooftops and in a narrow New York backyard. She mixes first-person accounts of past gardening challenges with objective instructions for building a great garden no matter how troublesome the site may seem. Her book contains advice for site assessment, numerous lists of plant suggestions for the unique problems associated with city garden sites, advice for obtaining plants from catalogues and on-line sources when trips to suburban or rural nurseries are not an option and season-by-season care instructions. "The City Gardener's Handbook" is the most recent edition from Ms. Yang of a work that began in 1990, and the information is obviously well-researched.

    One personal note I can add: After reading this book I learned that the stunted rose bush in my backyard needed to be tied to the horizontal edge of my fence to thrive. I followed Ms. Yang's instructions and was rewarded with the first season of abundant flowers ever. This advice alone was worth the price of the book, and the book is a bargain at $19.95 to begin with.

    If you live in a city and have limited space for gardening you will find this book an informative addition to your library.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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