Get 'er done

Even complicated gardening tasks look manageable in the "New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques" (Mitchell Beazley, $45).

The updated volume from the American Horticultural Society is a few hundred pages slimmer than its 2003 predecessor, but its 450-plus pages are packed with information.

This well-organized guide goes well beyond the basics into techniques for water gardening, cultivating fruit and growing in greenhouses. Even the lowly lawn, overlooked in many gardening books, gets its due.

The beauty of this book is its expert combination of concise words and detailed illustrations. Occasional photos provide inspiration while 2,000 step-by-step drawings show how the work gets done. Helpful features include guides to the relevant pests in each chapter and a bookmark that doubles as an index to "green" gardening.

As usual, a nationwide guide contains a lot of irrelevant tips for those of us in frosty Zones 3-4. But there's plenty to occupy the beginner and the veteran gardeners up here, too.