Ponds aplenty

This weekend and next the Twin Cities Pond & Landscape Tour opens the garden gates on more than 100 gardens that feature everything from putting greens to outdoor kitchens and, of course, ponds of all sorts.

In addition to swimmable ponds, koi ponds and rain gardens, several gardens on the tour mimic natural bogs.

New this year: The tour is free. (A donation of $10 per person to the Children's Cancer Research Fund is suggested.)

For more information, go to www.tcpondandlandscape tour.com.

CONNIE NELSON

Commercial killer

We are in an age of celebrity gardeners, the author of "Easy Container Gardens" (Color Garden Publishing, $19.95) being one of them.

Pamela Crawford is all over this book, pushing her own brand of fertilizer, grinning in pictures, confessing that she's killed zillions of plants. While her admission that even an expert can't grow everything is refreshing, the relentless shilling of products and commercial websites and the me-me-me tone of the text killed any enjoyment I had in the book. It's hard to find a page where something isn't being sold.

That's a pity in a book that otherwise is one of the best and simplest guides I've seen to container planting.

MARY JANE SMETANKA

Practical pots

Pots in the Garden: Expert Design and Planting" by Ray Rogers (Timber Press, $29.95) is filled with discussions about color, form and texture. But this book doesn't merely make plant and arrangement suggestions. Instead, Rogers gives useful information on design principles, pot selection, planting techniques and more. By doing so, he inspires readers to find their own style and develop their own applications.

LOS ANGELES TIMES-

WASHINGTON POST NEWS SERVICE