Ivette Soler's new book The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-less, Grow-more Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden is lush with pictures and full of design advice, color combinations, attractive edibles, and hardscaping ideas. Ivette (a.k.a. The Germinatrix), a garden designer and writer, insists on beauty and style in her front-yard edible landscapes and gardens. She advises "Beauty matters...your front yard is a greeting to the world."
Ivette advises us that "Growing food in your front yard is a courageous expression: you are telling people that you care about what your family eats," then continues with ways to draw inspiration from your home's style, regionally-adapted favorites, and edible choices that deliver multiple benefits - visual, herbal, edible, and structural.
Ivette shares her list of "Supermodels" - plants she has selected as the most attractive for the full growing season, as well as "Helper" plants - attractive, evergreen or structural ornamentals that are also medicinal herbs or useful in some way (for example, aloe, yarrow, agave, and daylilies). These helpers create a backbone for your garden to look good year-round, instead of merely during the planting season.
Ivette's eco-friendly vibe is strongest when recommending environmental choices such as urbanite and other easy-on-the-budget hardscaping choices, or when recommending ways to organically maintaining your front yard without the use of Round-up or pesticides. However, you won't find much information on attracting beneficial insects or wildlife, or techniques like swales, ollas or rainwater barrels. Instead, Ivette strongly recommends installing a permanent watering / irrigation system.
Her garden designs, and her plant lists, rely mainly plants that do well in her climate (Southern California), which is dry and hot - similar to ours here in Oklahoma, but with a bit less frost. Gardeners in cold, wet, short-season climates may not find the book as useful as those in hotter climates.
The Edible Front Yard, as well as Rosalind Creasy's classic text Edible Landscaping have wonderful pictures, great lists of attractive edibles, and useful design advice. If you are designing your own front yard garden, combine these books with a permaculture manual like Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment stating which the book you would like - Rosalind Creasy's book or Ivette Soler's The Edible Front Yard. I will pick the winner via random drawing on Wednesday the 18th.
Happy front yard gardening!
Note: This is an unsolicited review; I have not been compensated in any way.