How to - Gardening Basics

Fast forward to spring

Get some green thumb inspiration from these DVD reviews

Across the country, green thumbs are twiddling. The fact that each day is actually—though imperceptibly—getting longer comes as cold comfort. For instant relief from this seemingly endless freeze-thaw cycle, check out gardening videos from your local library. Tour gardens of the world with your feet up on the couch; learn new techniques or design an awe-inspiring garden; or just be awed. Library collections can be searched online, ordered and enjoyed at home along with hot cider and popcorn.

Below is a selection of videos to start you on your way. So put your green thumb on the remote and feed your dreams.

Garden tours
Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn is a wonderful eight-part series, originally broadcast on PBS. Hepburn herself was an enthusiastic gardener, pottering about La Paisible (the peaceful place)—her home near Tolochenaz, Switzerland. Six of these half-hour episodes, entitled Roses and Rose Gardens, Tulips and Spring Bulbs, Formal Gardens, Flower Gardens, Country Gardens, and Public Gardens and Trees, are available separately or in the Collectors Edition; the two remaining episodes are on one 60-minute video called Tropical Gardens and Japanese Gardens.

Lushly photographed and well researched, each video takes us to at least four famous public gardens. Formal Gardens, for example, traces the history of pleasure gardens back to the Egyptians and Persians, then sets us on a journey through Spain (the Alhambra), Italy (Villa Gamberaia, Villa Lante and Villa La Pietra), France (Château de Courances and Versailles), the U.S. (Mt. Vernon) and England (Hidcote Manor and Tintinhull House).

American rose expert and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Rayford Reddell takes us on an infomative ramble through his gorgeous 3.6-hectare rose ranch in Petaluma, California, in his video Growing Good Roses (56 minutes). Budding rosarian or not, consider this video as winter soul food.

For Canadian content, visit Fantasy Garden World in Richmond, British Columbia, with the former B.C. premier in Gardening with Bill Vander Zalm.

With the University of British Columbia's Botanical Garden as its backdrop, Canadian Gardener with David Tarrant is an excellent four-volume series, compiled from seven years of CBC's television series Canadian Gardener. Each volume runs 60 minutes. Topics covered are container gardening, perennials, roses, and trees, shrubs and climbers.

Despite his sprightly enthusiasm for British Columbia's lengthy growing season and plant wealth, host David Tarrant never gloats. He adjusts his advice to suit the rest of Canada and compares notes with correspondents across the country in a segment called Grapevine. In the “Hey, I could do that” department, Tarrant builds a patio pond and a hypertufa trough for alpine planting in volume 1. In each video, the subject matter is broad and well paced; each segment is punctuated with Garden Clippings, a collection of hints specific to the topic.

Brian Minter, B.C. columnist, broadcaster and president of the 11-hectare Minter Gardens near Chilliwack, shares his expertise on hanging moss flower baskets in The Hanging Baskets of Victoria and How to Make Them.

Two highly approachable series for beginners are Gardening Naturally with Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman and Mark Cullen's Complete Gardener.

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