FROM THE MAGAZINE SHELF is an occasional feature of the FOUNTAINDALE LIBRARY REFERENCE BLOG. Postings will highlight titles that you might find of interest, but haven’t picked up to read and explore. In addition to the titles that are in the Magazine Area on the 2nd Floor of our library, postings will also include titles from Zinio, the library’s digital magazine collection.

The recent celebration of the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, on April 23, brought to mind a book that I hadn’t looked at in quite a long time. It is Shakespeare’s Flowers, authored by Jessica Kerr and beautifully illustrated by the renowned American botanical artist Anne Ophelia Dowden. The book was published by Thomas Crowell and Sons, back in 1969.

If you’re not familiar with it, I recommend you treat yourself to this volume that mixes the garden wonders of nature and the prose of the bard. One reader described the book as a “gentle look at the flowers, herbs, and weeds Shakespeare knew and incorporated in his poetry and plays.” I recall the illustrations being exceptionally true to nature.

Although the book is not at any of our Pinnacle group of libraries, it is available to request through Inter-Library Loan (ILL). Our Inter-Library Loan staff told me that it usually takes between two and four weeks for an item to come in to us through ILL. The wait is well worth it for this little gem.

Shakespeare’s references to flowers and other botanicals made me think of this season we are in right now and the promise of what our spring garden planting efforts hold in store for us.

Which brings me around to some of the magazine offerings our library has available for you to check out and read and help plan what you’ll be growing from now through the fall months. Here are three titles that continue to be popular with our customers who enjoy the Number 1 hobby in this country.

Chicagoland Gardening (Available in the Magazine Area on the library’s 2nd Floor) is now in its twenty-third year of publication. It is THE gardening magazine that focuses on our region. The full-color bimonthly publication has several regular contributors and includes a number of Columns and Departments that appear in each issue:

  • Q & A,
  • Ask the garden Pros
  • Regional Reports
  • What to Do in the garden
  • The Indoor Garden
  • The Edible garden
  • The Container Gardener
  • The Hands-On Gardener
  • Chicagoland Natives
  • The Garden Classroom
  • Gardens of the Pros
  • Calendar of Events

Each issue has several Feature articles. The May/June 2017 issue included an excellent article by Chicago-area master Gardener Sarah Marcheschi on “Getting Started With Roses.”

Consulting Chicagoland Gardening will help make you a better gardener because of its focus and the quality of the information between its covers.

If you live anywhere in the Chicagoland area and want to make your gardening thumb a few shades greener, then you absolutely should be reading and using this magazine.

Fine Gardening (Available in the Magazine Area on the library’s 2nd Floor) started publishing in 1988 and comes from the same company, Taunton Press, which does Fine Cooking, Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, and Threads magazines.

Each bimonthly issue has regular Departments which readers look forward to each month:

  • Readers’ tips
  • Plant picks
  • Regional picks (BEST NEW FINDS for plants…here in the Chicago area, we’re covered by the Midwest region)
  • Design ideas
  • Captivating combination

In addition to the excellent photography, another aspect that sets Fine Gardening apart from other gardening magazines is that the feature articles are written in the first person. You really have the sense that the writer of the article is having a conversation with you. You feel that the home gardener, horticulturist, or professional landscaper is sharing their experience and knowledge directly with you.

The March / April 2017 issue had several really good feature articles: “The best NEW PLANTS for 2017,” “The Art of Watering / Quench your plants’ thirst with less waste,” “Why aren’t you growing more BAPTISIAS?,” and “FOUNDATION FRIENDLY PLANTS.”

Well written, personable articles, first-rate photography and layout, and timely information make Fine Gardening one of the top contenders for our customers’ favorite gardening magazine.

Mother Earth News (Available both in the Magazine Area on the library’s 2nd Floor and through our Zinio eMagazine collection) is considered by some gardening enthusiasts as the “mother” of all gardening publications. Founded in 1970, this bimonthly magazine certainly has been around longer than most of the other gardening related magazines. It undoubtedly has influenced other garden publications in one way or another, yet it has remained unique.

From its beginnings, Mother Earth News has been an advocate for back-to-the-earth topics such as renewable energy, family farms, recycling, composting, and other low-tech agricultural practices. The magazine’s overall approach to gardening, in general, is down-to-earth, practical, and how-to. These are all qualities that have come full circle in these times.

Mother Earth News differs somewhat from Chicagoland Gardening and Fine Gardening because it is broader in scope and embraces more aspects of the back-to-the land movement:

  • Organic gardening is still an integral part of its coverage. The April / May issue has feature articles titled: “Best Organic Fertilizers, “Medicinal Herbs for Difficult Conditions,” Grow Shiitake Mushroom,” and “Chinese Greenhouses” (which utilize passive solar energy for heating).
  • Some of the other areas that the magazine includes are DIY projects such as those in the current issue: “Build an Outdoor Oven,”  “DIY Wind Generator,” and “Fresh, Homemade Salad Dressings.”
  • The magazine also has several very informative blogs on their website,, on Organic Gardening, Nature and Environment, Real Food, Homesteading and Livestock, Renewable Energy, Green Homes, and DIY.

So, it’s easy to see why this enduring publication carries the subtitle: “THE ORIGINAL GUIDE TO LIVING WISELY.”

In addition to the three magazines that I’ve spotlighted in this post, you may also want to explore several others that have gardening coverage. These also are in our Magazine Area on the 2nd Floor of our library and through our Zinio eMagazine collection as noted:

  • Better Homes and Gardens ( + Zinio )
  • Garden Gate
  • HGTV Magazine ( + Zinio )
  • House Beautiful ( + Zinio )
  • Rodale’s Organic Life (formerly Organic Gardening) ( + Zinio )

A final note. One of the most beloved songs about the topic of gardening is The Garden Song by Dave Mallett. It’s been recorded many times, by many artists, including Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, and John Denver along with the Muppets. I really like this version which is performed by the songwriter.

Give it a listen and get inspired!

-Tom D.






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