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Prairie Short Season Yard

Quick and Beautiful on the Canadian Prairies

by Lyndon Penner

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canada, landscape, organic
list price: $24.95
category: Gardening
published: 2014
publisher: Brush Education
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Everything you need to know for a quick and beautiful yard on the Canadian prairies.

Creating and maintaining the perfect yard on the prairies 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 homeowners in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba 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 prairie provinces.

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 Chinook Short Season Yard, is available for gardeners who live in 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 the Canadian prairies.

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 book was a joy to read. There is so much great information on so many topics related to the prairie garden that it may well become the gold standard on short season gardening here in Manitoba.

— Manitoba Master Gardener Association

The Prairie Short Season Yard is a terrific treatise on gardening for prairie gardeners.... [Lyndon’s] book is a reflection of his style: wildly entertaining and enormously informative.

— <i>Saskatoon StarPhoenix</i>

I hadn’t even finished the book, when an issue arose in our garden this spring. My immediate response: let’s see what Lyndon has to say!... [A] new guru is in town.

— Edmonton Horticultural Society

Lyndon Penner has given an essential guide to help gardeners overcome a short gardening season in his concise but informative book.

— Master Gardeners Association of Alberta

This book was a joy to read. There is so much great information on so many topics related to the prairie garden that it may well become the gold standard on short season gardening here in Manitoba.

— <i>The Gardener Magazine</i>

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

Finally, a gardening book with humor! Lyndon Penner has done a marvelous job creating a garden book any person, whether just a beginner or a master gardener, can enjoy reading.

— Saskatoon Horticultural Society
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About the Author

Lyndon Penner

Popular radio gardening columnist, horticultural consultant, and professional landscape designer Lyndon Penner has been gardening since the age of three. He appears frequently as a guest speaker at universities, colleges, and gardening associations in western Canada. He is the author of The Prairie Short Season Yard and Garden Design for the Short Season Yard.
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