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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Home and garden

Gardening: Books to fill winter days indoors

By Pat Munts For The Spokesman-Review

I wasn‘t expecting snow Sunday morning.

I had a few more things to do outside but fortunately none that can’t wait until spring. That left me with cleaning up the garage after a busy garden season.

I worked through several of boxes full of tools and put them away. I packed the last of the cabbages into a plastic bag and rounded up the peppers I had picked at the last minute before the last snow. I took a box cutter knife to a collection of poly pipe and fittings that had been sitting for a year. As a result, I have a lifetime supply of half-inch fittings for projects down the road.

As I worked, I began to realize that as a gardener I was going to have to find something else to keep me busy through the winter.

With all the COVID-19 restrictions and my winter evening and weekend teaching schedule reduced, I will have a lot of time to fill. So, what to do?

I have two new books I have been waiting to read, “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer and Dan Hinkley’s newly published memoir, “Windcliff: A Story of People, Plants and Gardens.”

Wall Kimmerer is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma. She is also a professor of environmental and forest biology at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.

In her best-selling book, “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants,” Kimmerer weaves together a beautiful series of stories about the relationship between the Potawatomi people and the plants that give them life, botanical science and environmentalism.

Kimmerer talks about the relationship the Potawatomi people have with the plants they use for food, goods, art and celebration. As she is relaying these stories, she writes about the biology and botany of the plants and their role in the environment. She delves into issues around preserving and rebuilding plant communities that will help stabilize the effects of climate change.

It is a soft, gentle read that inspires readers to see our natural world in a completely different light.

Hinkley is a world-renowned plant explorer based on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. In the Northwest, he is better known for Heronswood Garden near Kingston, Washington, a garden and nursery that showed off the plants he had gathered on trips in Southeast Asia and China and unique, giant, pieces of art.

While Heronswood has taken on a new life, Hinkley and partner Robert Jones created a new garden at Windcliff atop a windswept bluff overlooking Puget Sound in nearby Indianola. In the book, Hinkley reminisces about the challenges of building the garden laced with stories of his plant hunting travels to remote areas of the world.

The stories are illustrated with the beautiful photography of Claire Takacs, who takes readers into every nook of the garden. The stories will inspire you and the photography will get you through the bleak, snowy winter.

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