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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Be a tourist, a hiker, a gardener: Hope springs eternal

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Spring is almost here, at least on the calendar.  After the extreme cold of this winter, I have thought that some of our warm days have felt almost like summer!  Maybe that’s overstating it, but it is a relief.  It’s enough to make a person think about warm-weather activities.  Following are some of our newest books to inspire your planning.

 Lawn Gone!: Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard by Pam Penick offers possibilities beyond mowed grass.  From ground covers and gardens to ponds and hardscapes, this book offers landscaping ideas for getting rid of traditional lawns, as well as information on figuring out the aspects that may be even trickier: city codes and skeptical neighbors. 

For more on choosing plants for your yard, check out Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty by Graham Rice.  This book focuses on plants that stay beautiful year-round as the seasons change.

Landscaping Ideas That Work by Julie Moir Messervy is a more comprehensive look at planning your yard.  The description of the book says that the difficulty of putting together many different landscape elements “creates confusion and inertia for homeowners who are trying to decide not only what to do, but where to start.”  I have to say that sounds like my husband and me; I think I’m going to have to check out that book.

For the homesteader types out there, there’s The New Horse-Powered Farm: Tools and Systems for the Small-Scale, Sustainable Market Grower by Stephen Leslie.    This book explains how to get started, how to train horses for farming, and how to plow, seed, cultivate, and harvest.  Everything old is new again.

For those interested in herbal medicine, we’ve gotten Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide.  This is an introduction to growing and using 33 herbs, including gardening tips.

A different kind of outdoors inspiration can be found in Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding by Lynn Darling.  It’s been compared to Wild and Eat, Pray, Love.  Darling was a widow who felt lost when her only child left for college.  She went to the woods of Vermont and began hiking with a dog and a compass, trying to develop a literal and metaphorical sense of direction.  Maybe you, too, will be inspired to head out into the woods after you read this book.

Springtime can make us feel like getting out and being tourists, as well.  The gorgeous book Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District by Karen Melvin may inspire you to go on a tour.  According to the Explore Minnesota website, Summit Avenue walking tours are offered year-round on Saturdays and Sundays.  To do something like this with the historic homes in Litchfield, take a look at the Litchfield Community Guide, in print or at www.litchfieldguide.com.


I am so ready for warm days.  Until then, I’ll start planning what I’ll do with them.  Come in to the library to pick up something to inspire your own spring plans.