I love gardening, and luckily I married a girl who loves to have a beautiful garden. Unfortunately, her idea of what makes a garden beautiful and my idea are a little different. For me, I like it to be interesting and I don't always care if it looks as tidy or uniform as something you'd see in a magazine. I love to see bees and butterflies and birds, and I want to smell the flowers. She's a landscaper, however, and she has a rare eye (more rare than she knows) for knowing what looks good and what doesn't. And as much as I appreciate her talent, I'd still like my garden to be interesting and useful, so as we plan for a re-do of the beds in our backyard, I'm hoping to incorporate more of the flowers I loved in my dad's garden (stuff like bee balm, black-eyed susans, cleome, and even the garish marigolds and red salvia), even though they might be a challenge for the overall scheme of things.
The Bee-Friendly Garden: Designing a Beautiful, Flower-Filled Landscape for the World's Most Prolific Pollinator by Kate Frey is an interesting book. It focuses primarily on attracting bees - both honeybees and other native types - into our gardens. They are, after all, not only helpful but essential to pollinating certain fruits and vegetables. It even discusses concerns some gardeners may have, such as kids and bee stings, but says the concern is mostly over-rated (I would agree, but I'm not allergic). It talks about the different kinds of bees a gardener is likely to see and why we should want them in our gardens. There are some pictures, but I was disappointed that they are very small - about an inch square - and difficult to see very well. Annuals and perennials are listed, as well as flowers that attract bees and hummingbirds, although the lists are a bit on the short side. Interestingly enough, even plants to avoid are listed - something I hadn't thought of.
There are a lot of very beautiful pictures here. As I mentioned, some of them are very small and more pretty than helpful. There is also at least one page that has the credits for the pictures incorrectly - a middle row shows 3 pictures but only 2 descriptions (I think the 3rd picture is listed with the bottom row), and I suspect there's at least one picture that is incorrectly identified. The text seems to be without such flaws, but with gardening books the pictures are as important as the information, so I feel obligated to mention it. Otherwise, however, it's a very nice book and I'm using it to pick some flowers I want to plant this year. (I received a copy of this book from bloggingforbooks.com for review purposes.)