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Chinook Short Season Yard

Quick and Beautiful in the Calgary Region

by Lyndon Penner

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canada, techniques, landscape
list price: $14.95
category: Gardening
published: 2014
publisher: Brush Education
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Everything you need to know for a quick and beautiful yard in the Chinook zone.

Creating and maintaining the perfect yard in the chinook zone isn’t as hard as you might think, but the short growing season doesn’t give you much time to transform your winter-weary yard into a glorious garden. To help Calgary-area homeowners get the jump on the short season, popular gardening expert Lyndon Penner has created the essential guide to a quick and beautiful yard in the chinook zone.

With gardening smarts, style and wit, Lyndon covers everything both novice and expert gardeners need to know, along with tips you won’t find anywhere else. Contains more than 200 beautiful, colour photos.

  • Quickly find what you need to know about climate zones, soil, colour, texture and shade.
  • Understand your yard’s potential.
  • Pick the best bulbs, perennials, trees and shrubs for your yard.
  • Deal with insects and plant diseases in environmentally friendly ways.
  • Shop smarter at garden centres.
  • Attract animals you want to your garden, and keep away the ones you don’t.

Another version of this book, The Prairie Short Season Yard, is available for gardeners who live outside the southern Alberta chinook zone.

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I have been gardening my whole life. Some of my earliest memories are related to gardening. Planting seeds, being in the garden, touching blossoms for the very first time—all of these experiences helped to shape me into the person I am today. Over the course of my life, my garden has been a friend, a sanctuary, and an excellent teacher. It can be those things for you as well. Some of the things I’ve learned in the garden have been very practical; others have merely been surprising or unexpected. I hope you’ll find this book to be the same way!

We should start with introductions. I’m Lyndon. I started working in the garden industry at the age of sixteen, and I’ve lived a fascinating, strange, wonderful, and complex life as a result. I will become that voice in your brain that says, “Only old people plant geraniums” and “You definitely need that dark red daylily.”

Though I now live in Calgary, I was raised in a rural setting just north of Saskatoon. From the time I was very small, I was helping my mother and my grandmother in the garden. An interest became a hobby, a hobby became a passion, a passion became an obsession, and an obsession became my career.

Everyone wants an attractive, functional yard, but not everyone wants to learn the name of every single plant or be enslaved by a vegetable garden. It is possible to have a beautiful yard that requires little and gives much, even in a harsh climate like Alberta’s chinook zone.

A garden is a living, breathing work of art. It is a kind of communication tool. Your garden says something to the world about you. That statement can be “I love food” or “I love things that look tropical” or “I’m lazy and can’t be bothered to pull weeds.” My job is to help you figure out what you want your yard to say and find the plants, flowers, and trees that do this most efficiently. Dolly Parton once said, “The magic is inside you. There ain’t no crystal ball.” I’m going to help you find that magic.

You don’t necessarily need to know the name of that tall thing with the blue flowers (it’s a delphinium), but if you know that it blooms like crazy and does well in that spot by the kitchen window, that might be all the information you need.

You do not have to be chained to your garden. You should be able to go away for a week in the summer without your garden completely falling apart.

You should also not be afraid to make mistakes because mistakes help you learn and they are invaluable. Gardening is supposed to be fun.

I am constantly telling people that low maintenance is not the same thing as zero maintenance. You’re going to learn a lot, I hope you’re going to laugh along the way, and you’re not going to take yourself too seriously. This is just gardening after all, and it should relieve (rather than cause) stress. Going to the local garden centre should be exciting! I’ll help you figure out what to spend money on. I’ll make sure you choose plants that will work with (and not against) the conditions in your yard and will flower over a long period.

One of the first things I hear from people new to gardening is “I don’t know what I’m doing.” They are frightened, anxious, stressed out, and feel overwhelmed. I understand these feelings, but you must set them aside. You can screw up six ways from Sunday and the right plant in the right place will still find a way to survive. Plants are amazing!

Before you ever plant anything or spend a single dollar on seeds, you must open yourself up to the magic of the earth, the surreal thrill that comes from interacting with leafy green, growing things. Try to see the wonder in it all. To put a seed in the ground and watch it turn into a flowering plant is nothing short of miraculous. To make dill pickles with cucumbers you grew from seed is overwhelmingly satisfying. I should also warn you right now that once you begin to see the magic, it’s easy to become totally seduced.

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Editorial Reviews

This is the ideal book for the hundreds of new gardeners that descend upon the garden centres each year.... For novice as well as veteran gardeners, this book is sure to be an agent for positive change in terms of how we approach gardening.

— Alberta Horticultural Association

When you read The Chinook Short Season Yard, you will know you have found a gem; definitely a book that belongs in your personal library. It’s in mine!

— <i>The Gardener Magazine</i>

For those of you who have heard Lyndon Penner talk, he writes in the same way: very down to earth and opinionated, and that’s why I would recommend the book.

— Lethbridge and District Horticultural Society
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