Plant Talk | Science Talk

A Gardener for All Seasons

Esther Jackson is the Public Services Librarian at NYBG’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library where she manages Reference and Circulation services and oversees the Plant Information Office. She spends much of her time assisting researchers, providing instruction related to library resources, and collaborating with NYBG staff on various projects related to Garden initiatives and events.


NY & NJThe seasonal chores related to gardening can be both a comfort and a pressure for the horticulturally inclined. This selection of recent books details various seasonal aspects of gardening, including the weather, nature journaling, and monthly chores to tackle in our area.

For the practical-minded, there is New York & New Jersey Month-by-Month Gardening by Kate Copsey. Do you feel like you might be forgetting a November chore? Copsey’s book shares guidance with home gardeners who love to-do lists and careful seasonal planning. New York & New Jersey Getting Started Garden Guide by Vincent Simeone is another title that can be used in tandem with Copsey’s recent publication.

Moving from to-do lists to more academic pursuits, next comes the topic of nature journaling with Flora Forager: A Seasonal Journal Collected from Nature by Bridget Beth Collins. I first came across Collins’s work through her Instagram account, where you can see her use of leaves, petals, and other natural materials to create beautiful scenes, landscapes, and animal portraits. Located in the Pacific Northwest, Collins uses materials from her garden and forages from “urban wild areas” in her neighborhood. The journal is laid out into four seasons, each one featuring a unique, full-page collage. Empty, lined pages are adorned with smaller floral pieces that repeat throughout the work. Regular visitors to the NYBG Shop might recall the notecards Collins produced with the Garden last year, now available through Collins’s website.

Flora ForagerThe Flora Forager journal offers a lovely way to track seasonal changes and write observations about nature, either on your own property or in a natural area you frequent regularly.

Finally, how can we talk about seasons without talking about weather? I admit that I felt predisposed to like Michael Allaby’s newest book, The Gardener’s Guide to Weather & Climate. As I mentioned in my review of Allaby’s The Dictionary of Science for Gardeners, he has written, edited, or co-authored over 100 books on environmental science. He’s also edited four other scientific dictionaries, which is a dedication to organization that librarians (and botanists) can heartily embrace and appreciate.

The reasoning behind publishing Weather & Climate is readily apparent. As a reviewer from the Wall Street Journal notes, “We owe it to our plants to read this book. After all, while we just live with the weather, our plants have to survive it.” Allaby defines the scope of the book thusly: “It explains, simply and succinctly, the basic principles of climatology, which is the study of climates, and meteorology, which is the study of weather, with particular reference to gardening and garden plants.”

Weather & ClimateWeather & Climate offers a global perspective. However, a home gardener may flip through the pages and wonder at the book’s utility as it relates to a very specific region. It’s important to keep in mind that there are generally other gardening books that write about local weather and climate concerns, and that Weather & Climate might better be used to understand larger concepts with a global perspective.

For an introduction to topics like ocean currents, cloud types, precipitation types, soils, and more, The Gardener’s Guide to Weather & Climate is an eclectic mix for the science-hungry gardener.

Whatever the size of your garden and your ambition, keeping abreast of seasonal chores and seasonal changes is a practical concern and a comforting rhythm.

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