A Virtual Garden Tour

Take a (virtual) tour through some of the most beautiful gardens of the world! 

Though the weather might not be well-suited for a garden tour right now, with books borrowed or downloaded from the library, you can enjoy armchair travelling from the safety of your home, take pleasure in looking through books with gorgeous color illustrations and photographs of splendidly designed gardens from all over the world, and learn about the people who designed them.

A Garden for All Seasons: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Hillwood by Kate Markert is the first book on the history and design of Hillwood, the estate of Marjorie Post, the businesswoman and the heir of General Foods, Inc.

The gardens were designed with the idea of planting a very diverse range of plants and trees, thus providing something flowering or simply beautiful to look at for every season. The new commissioned photography for the book perfectly reflects the beauty of the garden.

For Rachel Lambert Mellon – best known as Bunny Mellon – plants and gardens have been a passion for all her long life (1910-2014), and she was really remarkable with garden designs. Best known for her redesign of the White House Rose Garden, she planned grounds designs for all the multiple estates her family owned in various parts of the world. She also designed a couple of gardens for the celebrated French couturier, Hubert de Givenchy, and several other gardens of the White House.

The Gardens of Bunny Mellon by Linda Holden includes spectacular newly commissioned photographs of some of Mellon’s gardens, as well as her sketches and watercolors.

In American Gardens, Monty Don, an eminent British horticulturist, travels across the US with celebrated photographer Derry Moore, exploring the country’s iconic as well as lesser-known gardens. Best known as a presenter of the BBC gardening television series, Mr. Don did one of the episodes this past year on American gardens; the book complements the series, and includes some previously unpublished photographs. 

The Garden Tourist: 120 Destination Gardens and Nurseries in the Northeast by Jana Milbocker describes 120 botanical gardens, historic estates, and nurseries from Southern Maine to Pennsylvania. 

665 luscious photos make this book more than a guidebook; it offers aesthetic enjoyment of horticultural colors and designs.

For those wishing to explore outside North America, the library has the following offerings:

Japanese Gardens: Kyoto by photographer Akira Nakata showcases 96 stunning Japanese gardens of Kyoto. These awe-inspiring works of art date between the 13th and the 17th centuries.

A recognizable aspect of Japanese culture, gardens embody a philosophy about the relationship between humanity and nature through seamless incorporation of living elements with man-made design and the surroundings (such as buildings).

Not to be missed, especially if Kyoto is a travel destination.

Everyday Monet: A Giverny-inspired Gardening and Lifestyle Guide to Living Your Best Impressionist Life by Aileen Bordman will take you to France, to the third most-visited site in the country: Giverny, a commune in Normandy best known for the location of an estate that was once home to Claude Monet, one of the founders of the French Impressionism.

Gorgeously illustrated with photos of Monet’s spectacular garden designs, reproductions of his paintings, and filled with instructions, the book becomes a practical guide for creating a lifestyle inspired by Monet’s works.

As always, these books are available through the library catalog, either in print or digital format, sometimes both. 

Digital downloads are available through Overdrive/Libby with your library card. To obtain a print copy, please carefully read the instructions for reserving and Curbside Pickup.

We’re Going on a (Backyard) Safari!

Spring has finally sprung! In New England, that means that nice weather is (hopefully) here to stay and we can all enjoy the great outdoors. It also means that you can observe wildlife galore enjoying the spring sunshine, too. Luckily, our friends over at the Museum of Science, Boston Children’s Museum, and Zoo New England have created some fabulous resources for your family’s flora and fauna explorations.

A great place to start your backyard safari is by listening to the Museum of Science’s Pulsar: A Podcast episode on “Observing Wildlife in Your Backyard.” Biologist Colleen Hitchcock of Brandeis University offers tips and tricks for observing and identifying wildlife that you may see around your house. It is also particularly helpful for observing nature in more urban or highly populated areas, as this episode was originally broadcast as a resource for the City Nature Challenge at the end of April. Be sure to also check out some of their fantastic Family STEM Activities, especially Outdoor Explorers and Ecosystem Exploration, and the Museum’s guides to bird flight pattern identification and butterfly watching for more great activities and ideas for exploring nature in your backyard!

The Boston Children’s Museum also has some wonderful activities designed to get kids outside and in touch with nature. In their Activities Archive, you can find resources for getting creative and going on a National Geographic Neighborhood Safari or Nature Scavenger Hunt. The Museum’s Beyond the Chalkboard educational resource site also includes many great ideas for exploring nature, including how to figure out what wildlife shares your habitat.

Finally, head over to Zoo New England for a wide-array of ideas to connect with nature. Learn how to turn your backyard into a certified wildlife habitat or build a habitat for your favorite animal (if your favorite creature is a butterfly, use their guide to creating a butterfly garden). For the birdwatchers out there, check out the Zoo’s guide to birding in your own backyard, and how to make a bird feeder for your feathered friends. For even more fun, their Kid’s Corner site has lots of awesome nature-inspired activities, including instructions on how to identify trees through touch!

And, of course, we’ve got you covered for all of your bird-watching, butterfly-garden-building, and backyard-exploring reading needs — all free, with your library card, through our Overdrive/Libby and hoopa e-collections:

Pamela Hickman’s Nature All Around series: Trees, Plants, and Bugs

Counting Birds by Heidi E.Y. Stemple

My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valério

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jaqueline Davies

Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons

Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer

Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement by Stephanie Roth Sisson

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? by Peter Wohlleben

Winged Wonders by Meeg Pincus

Common Critters: The Wildlife in Your Neighborhood by Pat Brisson

The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More

Spring is in full bloom, and most of us are itching to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer us. We admire the trees for their blossoming buds, and we plant gardens full of colorful flowers and aromatic herbs. In Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More, readers learn how to connect more deeply and spiritually with the natural environment they live in. 

Living in Salem’s neighboring cities and towns, we’re all familiar with the terms witch and witchcraft. A common misconception about witchcraft is that it is the same as Wicca. Wicca is a specific and formal nature-based religion, whereas witchcraft (as Hiscock describes) “refers to the practice of working with natural energies to attain goals, without the specific religious context” (p. 14). 

There are many forms and focuses of witchcraft, but the path of the green witch is defined by her relationship to the world around her, by her ethics, and by her affinity with the natural world. With green witchcraft, there are no unique prayers, no uniforms, no holy texts, no obligatory tools, and no specific holiday. Instead, green witchcraft is a practice that combines the use of herbs and other green matter with seven basic energies: harmony, health, love, happiness, peace, abundance, and protection.

Throughout Hiscock’s guide, readers will learn how to use the various elements of nature—the sun, the moon, trees, stones, flowers, and herbs—to connect more closely with the Earth, to create and craft green witch magic, to become a natural healer, and much more.The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More is now accessible in Overdrive and the Libby app!

Register Now for “Look Up Look Down: Let’s Celebrate Trees” with Nationally Acclaimed Storyteller Judith Black!

Sustainable Marblehead, in collaboration with the Abbot Public Library, will present a virtual storytelling event on Tuesday, May 5th at 3:30 pm. Come join “Look Up Look Down: Let’s Celebrate Trees” with nationally acclaimed storyteller and Marblehead resident Judith Black. Judith will share a 30-minute program of songs and international stories celebrating trees. The program is suitable for ages 5 and up.

From the British Isles to West Africa, traditional cultures have created stories that celebrate the value and resonance of the forest. Listen and meet a crafty spider, a hungry koala bear, and three brothers whose lives depend on their relationship to their ancient forest friends.

Registration is required. To register, please contact: sustainablemarblehead@gmail.com.

For more on Judith Black, visit Stories Alive.