Upper South

March, 2007
Regional Report

Books

Gardening Exercise
Other perspectives on gardening as exercise and exercising in order to be better able to garden are offered by Gardener's Yoga: Bend and Stretch, Dig and Grow, by Veronica D'Orazio (Sasquatch Books, 2006, $12.95) and Shovel It: Nature's Health Plan, by Eva Shaw (Writeriffic Publishing Group, 2001, $15.95).

The 64 pages of Gardener's Yoga are divided into three sections. The first, Breaking Ground, emphasizes warming up the spine and gently engaging the hips, back, and neck. The second section, Planting Seeds, elaborates on standing and balancing poses. In the last section, Harvest, relaxation, elongating tired muscles, and refocusing the spirit are emphasized. Overall, it emphasizes how the "work" of gardening can be turned into rituals of rejuvenation for mind, body, and spirit. Shovel It is an uplifting yet down-to-earth book that looks both at the spiritual side of gardening as well as the physical side. It offers practical insight on ways to reduce stress and discover the joys of gardening as well as ways to use herbal remedies and garden-based fitness programs.

Favorite or New Plant

Peony 'America'
As with many other plants, there are hundreds of peony varieties, with only a few widely grown. Yet certain ones deserve to be better known. A friend with a serious peony obsession has recommended the variety 'America' not only for its flowers but also for how it "behaves" in the garden. First the flowers, which bloom in May and are a ruffled, deep red, with a single row of petals around a bright golden center. A bonus is that they are fragrant and make good cut flowers. What is significant about the plant is that it loaded with blooms yet stands gracefully without support and the foliage stays attractive until season's end. Plants grow to 30 inches tall and 36 inches wide. Mailorder sources include Swenson Gardens, http://www.swensongardens.com, and A & D Nursery, http://www.adpeonies.com.

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