Funkie says farewell

After 15 years of selling rare and unusual plants, Baard and Diane Webster are closing Funkie Gardens.

Baard Webster said the business, which they operated from their antebellum-era home in Prescott, Wis., had outgrown its space and they didn't want to move it off-site. He also said that he and his wife would miss their customers much more than they would miss running a nursery. "It's the hours," he said, "and it's physically pretty demanding." Still, he's proud of the business they built from scratch. "We set out to do a specialty nursery and we did it," he said.

Funkie, which was known for its wide variety of hostas as well as its selection of unusual peonies, woodland plants and small trees, will continue to sell martagon lilies each fall.


Making organic fun

Good ideas abound in a small space in "Organic Crops in Pots" (CICO Books, $24.95). This book is packed with creative tips for growing herbs and vegetables in containers. And the ideas for making planters out of old colanders, oil cans and other kitchen containers are both fun for the yard and good for the Earth.

Author Deborah Schneebeli-Morell wins extra points for tamping down that lecturing tone while stating her case for composting and against pesticides. She no doubt realizes that gardeners can apply her nifty ideas for containers without committing to organic gardening. But she makes it look like so much fun, why wouldn't we try?

At play in the garden

When you're overwhelmed by your garden projects, sometimes you need a friendly guide to take you in hand.

How will you use your garden? Do you want sun or shade? You can do this, and it'll be fun.

British garden maven Caroline Tilston shares that friendly guidance in a series from Wiley publishers. In fewer than 200 pages per book, she provides 10-step programs for four big subjects: "Design Your Garden," "Garden Makeovers," "Low-Maintenance Gardens" and "Rooftop & Terrace Gardens." Each comes with 10 examples for inspiration.

Her breezy approach helps you relax and focus at the same time. While all her plant suggestions won't work in Minnesota's climate, her British idioms translate beautifully and make you want to get out there and "have a play."