Home & Garden

Former extension agent Toby Bost guides, inspires Carolinas gardeners

Roses are favorites in Piedmont gardens. This one is the climbing rose Jasmina.
Roses are favorites in Piedmont gardens. This one is the climbing rose Jasmina. KORDES ROSES

Why do we need more gardening books? Because they can inspire us to get out and create something stirring from a spare plot of dirt.

That was my thought when I picked up a copy of “Carolinas Getting Started Garden Guide” ($24.99, Cool Springs Press). The book by former Triangle-area N.C. Extension Agent Toby Bost is part reference and part dreamy photo encyclopedia.

Bost said he wrote the book to help gardeners move beyond that initial infatuation with those plants that we see in pictures and become determined to have at home. He wants to help gardeners establish those plants so they become as vigorous and stunning as the images in our books.

I’m drawn to the roses. Not the hybrid teas that need to be sprayed and pampered all their lives. I’m a fan of the shrub roses, the antiques and the old garden varieties, so I was interested in Bost’s take on that subject.

“There is a rose for every region of the Carolinas and a form for every location,” he writes.

But any gardener who has tried to grow roses knows having them in your yard doesn’t mean they’ll be pretty. Bost agrees.

“The first heady rush of blooms in spring is wonderful,” he writes. “The flowers are perfect, the leaves deep green, and the fragrance divine. By June, the Japanese beetles arrive, and black spot sets in. By August, the reality of growing cut roses in the South confronts you. It’s like facing a sink full of dirty dishes after a romantic candlelit dinner.”

That’s true of other plants, too. Our hot, humid summers are brutal for plants. With this book, you’ve got a coach by your side who knows the terrain.

Karen’s blog: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/home-garden/smarter-living/homelife-blog/; on Twitter @sullivan_kms. See earlier Homelife columns at http://homelifeclt.blogspot.com.