Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc.
P. O. Box 33520
Raleigh, NC 27636-3520


Physical Location:
J.C. Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road
Raleigh, NC


Office Hours:
Monday - Thursday 9:00-5:00


For Website Submissions:
See the Website Submission
Rules in Members Only
Marcia Loudon, Website Chairman

Reading in the Garden

Books in this “Reading in the Garden”  issue have been reviewed by Maggie Farrell, Librarian for the Charlotte Council of Garden Clubs, Inc. These books are all available new or used on Amazon. Your local bookstore may be able to order them. House Plant Expert and Designing by Types are also available from National Garden Clubs since it is required reading for Flower Show School.

Designing by Types

Designing by Types

Designing by Types is a book published by the National Garden Clubs, Inc. to complement the design chapter in The Handbook for Flower Shows.  It takes the guess work out of designs typically presented in standard flower shows.  The book lists over forty design types, gives a thorough description of each one, and has beautiful pictures illustrating the described design.  Many of the designs illustrated could be used in the home or for a special occasion, as well as for a flower show.  This book provides a marvelous reference for all those who enjoy flower designs and provides a fuller appreciation of the variety of possibilities for each design type.  Check out this book just to look at the pictures!

Native plants of SE

Native Plants of the Southeast
By Larry Mellichamp
With photographs by Will Stuart

In Native Plants of the Southeast, Dr. Melichamp has provided the ultimate guide to the best natives for southeastern gardens. It features the most beautiful native plants that adapt well to garden cultivation, have multi-season appeal, and attract native birds, butterflies and other beneficial wildlife. The book includes 460 of the best species of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, grasses, ferns, and aquatic and bog plants. Each entry has a beautiful picture of the species along with a thorough description, habitat, range, propagation, landscape uses, ease if cultivation, availability, and notes with little known facts of interest. If that is not enough, toward the end it also has plant lists for special situations and purposes. If you want to create a garden that reflects the unique beauty of the Southeast region, have an invaluable garden resource, or just enjoy an informative, well written book with gorgeous pictures, then this is the book for you.

Garden Color Book

The Garden Color Book
By Paul Williams

Last month this book was donated to our library.  I took it home and had a lot of fun with it.  Hope you will, too!

The Garden Book of Color solves the problem of looking for colorful combinations of flowers that work well together.   Designing a pleasing color scheme in any garden becomes a fun activity with these colorful flower pictures.  The book contains colorful strips of mix-and-match flip pages of over 639 flower and foliage plants arranged by color.  Actual photographs of the plants make it easy to let your eye experiment with different color combinations and compare subtle shifts in color for added design impact.  An added bonus is that the back of each strip describes the plants culture and growing habits.  And it offers some good suggestions for plant combinations.

It is easy to use and can save time that used to spent planting and the transplanting plants to different locations because they did not work well with surrounding plants in a bed.  The strips of mix-and-match flip pages are the perfect interactive format for letting your own eye experiment with different color combinations.  Having one reference source that gives you this combining ability makes it a perfect book for any gardener, from beginner to expert.



Heat-Zone Gardening
by Dr. H. Marc Cathey

We, as gardeners, have long used the USDA Plant Hardiness Map to select our plants.  The USDA map goes by the number of cold days in each particular region. With the predicted rise in global temperatures, many areas are now experiencing extended high temperature days.  The concept of heat zones presented in this book will help you choose plants that will thrive in our region’s warmest weather.

The growing interest in more ecological, water-thrifty gardening gives rise to the need to know how to pick plants that can endure summer’s hottest days.  This book explains the heat-zone concept and provides a map of the American Horticulture Society Heat-Zone Map. There is a chapter devoted to assessing your garden and determining which plants will work best for your conditions.  “It is estimated that 50% of residential water goes into maintaining landscapes in the United States.  Approximately half of that amount is considered to be applied unnecessarily or wasted.”  Effective watering methods are presented as well as how to create water zones within your landscape.  Another chapter is devoted to choosing the right plant for the right place within our gardens.

The majority of the book is devoted to presenting the profiles of over 500 commonly used plants.  Each profile provides a picture of the plant and then lists the USDA Hardiness zone, AHS Heat-zone, plant characteristics, soil and light requirements, plant description, planting suggestions, and several garden locations where it would prosper.

Using this book you will learn how to choose plants that adapt to your climate, design a water-thrifty landscape, use summer-survival gardening techniques, and make microclimates work for you.  Heat-Zone Gardening provides good information to any gardener who wants to know what plants will thrive in their particular region.


Container Gardening

Container Gardening through the Year
By Malcolm Hillier

In Container Gardening through the Year, Malcolm Hillier provides beautiful planting projects for every type of container and every month of the year.  Information is provided in an introductory chapter on choosing the right plants and containers and then planting for color, proportion, texture, and shape suitable to the location of the container.  He also explores how different garden locations can be enhanced with containers, thus providing a multitude of creative gardening ideas.

There are sections for each season of the year containing numerous examples with a variety of pots, colors, size, and location.  The large, glossy, full color photos effectively help to give an idea of size, scope, and often texture of the displays, as they contrast their containers.  His eye for color and his knack for matching the pots to their plants are very impressive.

The final chapter contains information on container preparation and planting, staking and training, plant maintenance, and the replanting of containers from one season to the next.  An extensive plant list with descriptions closes out the book.  Container Gardening through the Year would be an excellent primer for the beginner or a good reference for an experienced gardener.

Pruning Book

The Pruning Book: Completely Revised and Updated
by Lee Reich

Pruning is something that can confound even the most competent gardener.  There seems to be a different suggestion from whomever you ask, be it fellow gardeners, nurserymen, the extension service, or web sites.  The Pruning Book explains the do’s and don’ts of cutting back to achieve healthy growth and good form.  It takes gardeners through the process of pruning everything from ornamental trees and bushes to topiaries and bonsai.  The illustrations (over 250 photographs and 135 drawings) are very clear.  An introduction of 30 pages explains why and how to prune.  Specific sections on different types of plants help readers learn how to make the right cut the first time, every time.  Any gardener needing a great pruning guide that covers just about everything growing in today’s gardens, should pick up this book.

Garden problem solver

Garden Problem Solver
By the Editors of Reader’s Digest

I recently asked our Council members for suggestions of books to add to our library.  This one came highly recommended and after looking at it I can see why.

The Garden Problem Solver by Reader’s Digest is a great book for referencing problems with plants in your garden.  You can find the answer to over 1,000 problems in your garden including problems with vegetables, flowers, shrubs, etc.  Every plant problem was presented in great color pictures so you could determine if that was your plant’s issue.  No guessing about the size, shapes, color, or markings of the hole or bite in a leaf.  You just match your particular problem to the picture in the book.

The format is easy to use and the book is well organized and easy to understand.  Garden Problem Solver will help solve your gardening issues and assist in identifying problems with which you may not be familiar.  It gives you natural choices for problems and then lists synthetic pesticides to try.

You can even use it as a reference before purchasing a new plant to be sure it will fit into your garden and to be aware of its most common problems.  With the large variety of plants listed and the many helpful hints, I think this will become your go to book for plant problems.

cooks guide

A Cook’s Guide to Growing Herbs, Greens, and Aromatics
by Millie Owen

Millie Owen was a New Yorker transplanted to rural Vermont. Over the course of eight years, she taught herself by trial and error about growing edible plants. She now enjoys both cultivating and harvesting from the wild the widest possible assortment of edible botanicals, including greens, herbs, and aromatics such as garlic, onions, and horseradish.

In A Cook’s Guide to Growing Herbs, Greens & Aromatics, she reminds you that convenience should be your first thought when planning a garden, no matter what the size. Typical of her quirky practicality, she suggests using grow-lights in a closet or under the bathroom sink, so you can devote the space on sunny window sills for more visually attractive flora.

The book is divided into 2 parts. The first includes sections on growing herbs, greens, and aromatics both indoors and outdoors, foraging for wild greens and herbs, preserving herbs, and using mixed herbs. The second part is made up of sections on the culinary uses of 47 various individual edibles, from asparagus to wormwood. The sections on most plants include one or more recipes in addition to interesting stories on growing, gathering, and eating the various plants.

This book was recommended to me by one of our CCGC members at the January meeting. I’m glad she pointed it out. I have enjoyed it thoroughly and think you will, too!


Bizarra Botanicals

Bizarre Botanicals
By Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross

Bizarre Botanicals is a really fun book written by local authors from the UNCC Horticulture Department.  This book is full of plants that will spice up your life and garden.  The introduction explains how to understand weird plants, general tips for growing them, botanical aspects, how plants are named, and resources.  Basically, anyone can find something of interest among odd and curious plants.

This book contains descriptions of 78 of the most outlandish plants that can be grown at home.  The plants are divided into ten sections, of plants with similar characters.  Some section examples are Love Plants, The Plant Zoo, and Odd Inflorescences.  Each plant has an explanation of its weirdness, growing instructions, growing difficulty, history, good stories, and great pictures.

You may be surprised at the number of these bizarre plants you may already own.  I had quite a list of those that graced my windows or garden either presently or in the past.  Then there are the ones you will just have to obtain, like the Cuckoo Flower or Fox Face.  And, you can check out most of these plants at the UNCC Greenhouse, where they are growing, fruiting, flowering, and labeled.  So, grab your trowel and start your own botanically bizarre adventure!

Square foot gardening

All New Square foot Gardening, 2nd Edition
By Mel Bartholomew

 Mel Bartholomew wrote the original Square Foot Gardening in the early 1980’s.  It quickly became the most practical, foolproof way to grow a home garden.  In this new edition, he has improved this popular method of gardening by adding ten improvements.  Some of these include a new location for the garden, a special soil mix, no heavy digging, and above the ground boxes with grids for vertical gardening to save space.  He clearly explains the square-foot concept, from the rationale behind it (the square-foot garden takes up much less space than traditional row gardening and saves time, money, and aggravation) to how to plan the garden, build the boxes and vertical supports, and employ his planting and cultural techniques. There are also helpful charts for succession planting and spacing plants and a schedule for starting seeds indoors.  Finally, an expanded section on pest control helps you protect your precious produce.  The method is neat, clean, and extremely easy to manage.  This book will be appreciated by novice and experienced gardeners alike.

by Helen Kraus & Anne Spafford

ebook at

Rain Gardening  Look for the ebook edition of Rain Gardening in the South: Ecologically Designed Gardens for Drought, Deluge, & Everything in Between. The first book for the consumer/home gardener on this important new environmental movement, Rain Gardening in the South is a how-to guide on creating beautiful gardens that capture, filter, and use water that runs off roofs, driveways, and other hardscapes.
Written by NCSU horticulturalists Helen Kraus and Anne Spafford, Rain Gardening in the South helps gardeners wisely use our most precious resource—water. Rain gardens maximize rainwater, enhance the landscape, and promote good environmental stewardship.
Runoff contributes significantly to polluting our waterways. The rain garden, which functions as a miniature reservoir and filtration system, offers an effective, visually pleasing solution that dramatically reduces toxic runoff, resulting in cleaner rivers, lakes, and oceans.
The authors define the rain garden as “a garden slightly sunken below grade designed to capture rainfall, store that water to nurture the garden plants, and cleanse runoff, thus removing pollution.”
Ironically, rain gardens are more drought-tolerant than conventional gardens. Because of their plant selection and ability to store water, rain gardens flourish during dry spells, as well as rainy seasons, making them particularly conducive to the South.
“Water-wise gardeners are conscious of both the need to limit their water use and the need to minimize runoff, thereby dramatically reducing water pollution,” write Kraus and Spafford. “Not only are rain gardens extremely effective in addressing water and pollution issues, they are gorgeous.”
Rain Gardening in the South addresses the specific environmental circumstances of southern gardens, such as climate issues, plant selection, and soil types. It details step-by-step instruction on constructing a garden, from the design stage to post-planting maintenance, including plant lists and troubleshooting tips.
The book received the 2010 Gold Award for best technical gardening book from Garden Writers Association; the Silver Award of Achievement from the Garden Writers Association and the Silver Benjamin Franklin Award in  Gardening/Agriculture from the Independent Book Publishers Association.
Published by Eno Publishers, the book, Rain Gardening in the South, is available at a discounted price at the publisher’s website: $16 + $4 shipping at
The ebook, priced at $8.90, is available at   

No Green Thumb Required!

No Green Thumb Required!
Organic Family Gardening Made Easy
By Don Rosenberg

This self-published manual shows how organic gardening at home can be an easy project in which all family members can participate.  In the introduction, Mr. Rosenberg states that No Green Thumb Required is a new approach to home gardening that “combines ancient methods of intensive terrace gardening to conserve space and maximize harvest, with the latest research on soils, organic fertilizers, and safe methods of insect and disease control.”  His method utilizes raised beds filled with weedless soil to eliminate many of the hassles of the conventional backyard garden.  It shares earth-saving ideals and lays out easy-to-implement principles for growing organically.  Mr. Rosenberg includes information on how and where to set up your raised beds for the best results, what and when to plant (“FRESNO”), how to care for your garden through the year, and getting your whole family involved.  It is a practical manual even an inexperienced gardener can understand and appreciate.

This book will take you through the steps of how you and your family can plan, install and manage your own organic garden. Start a new tradition in your family, help yourself and the kids in your life learn about nature, and start eating, safe, fresh, healthy vegetables, all year long!

Garden Birds: How to Attract Birds to Your Garden

Author: Dr. Noble Proctor

Garden Birds is an illustrated guide to making and maintaining a garden that will attract various species of birds. It opens with a bird-based approach to garden planning. The first part of the book is a gardening section that includes a general assessment of what attracts birds to gardens, how gardens can be adapted to attract a wide range of species, the environmental requirements of different bird species, and how these requirements are satisfied through fundamental factors of trees, shrubs, flowers, lawns weeds, and water.

The remainder of the book is a comprehensive directory of 100 species of garden birds. For each bird species there is a page with a painting, a range map, and a basic description including its habits, food and vegetation preferences, how to attract it, etc.

Although written in the late 1990’s, Garden Birds is an immensely informative, beautifully illustrated, comprehensive guide to transforming any garden into a haven for birds.

Published by Rodale Books, 1996


North Carolina Gardener’s Guide
Author: Toby Bost

This book is very helpful in the choosing, planting and care of annuals, perennials,  groundcovers, shrubs, trees, bulbs, vines, and herbs that grow well in North Carolina. The choices at a gardening center can be overwhelming, choices at a gardening center can be overwhelming, but Tony Bost’s advice can help you focus on plantings that have a good chance of success in your North Carolina garden.  He goes into great detail on the exact way to plant your selection and the maintenance of the plant.  The book contains helpful information such as how to fertilize the plant, how to water it, and how to prune it. Some of the problems that may be encountered with the plants and what kinds of pests or diseases to which the plant may be susceptible are presented. Mr. Bost has also included up to date information on new cultivars that are being developed and utilizes the excellent research currently being done at the Raulston
Arboretum in Raleigh.  This book could be considered a “must” for anyone interested in gardening in North Carolina.

Published by Cool Springs Press, 1997


The House Plant Expert
Author: Dr. D. G. Hessayon

The House Plant Expert is one of the required reading books for NGC Flower Show School. It is a good quick reference for those houseplants usually found in our homes. Dr. Hessayon starts out with “The Ten Golden Rules” for houseplants that, if followed, should keep all your plants healthy and happy. Chapters include keeping plants in the home, displaying indoor plants, general plant care, propagation, plant troubles, and houseplant classification. The part of the book that I find most helpful is “House Plants A-Z” where illustrations and descriptions of hundreds of house plants can be found by botanical name. Don’t fret – there is an index of common plant names at the end of the book to assist in finding your plant!

The part of the book I find most helpful is “House Plants A-Z.”  Each listing gives a picture, general description, various types available, secrets to success (conditions the plant likes), and special problems that may be common for that plant. The dictionary near the end of the book is a good place to look up terms with which you may not be familiar.

All in all, this book is a good first place to look for a new and different plant for your house, to be sure you are taking the best care of your current plants, or when one of your plants is a little under the weather.

Published by Pan Britannia Publishing, 1992


Tough Plants for Southern Gardeners
Author: Felder Rushing

“Tough Plants for Southern Gardens” is a book for Southern gardeners who want low care, no care, tried and true plants they can put into their garden and forget. It contains 120 of the toughest plants for our area including annuals, perennials, porch plants, grasses, bulbs, shrubs, vines, and small trees. These plants are noted for their ability to thrive with minimal care. Each plant includes information about its flowering characteristics, the plant’s use in the landscape, interesting varieties, soil preference, propagation, and tips specific to that particular plant. Many of these selections can withstand drought, poor soil, and minimal (or no) pruning, while providing beauty and charm in the home landscape.

The book is divided into sections by type of plant. Details are given for each plant on how to plant it, how to care for it, where to put it, and what to expect from it over time. Each has a picture, usually detailed enough to allow you to identify the plant at a nursery. Additionally, sections begin with short lists of plants that are “Great for beginners” (extremely easy to deal with) or “Kinda tricky.” Random advice, like how to successfully plant wildflowers in your lawn, is scattered throughout.

With his usual writing style, Felder Rushing has made this a terrific compilation of facts, lists, advice, pictures, and humor. This is a great book for anyone looking for a vast selection of plants that are nearly unkillable.

Published by Thomas Nelson, 2003