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The Word / The Web

Information really is at your fingertips, whether thumbing through pages or tapping at the comptuer keyboard. This column will help direct you, both at the bookstore and on the Internet, to sources that will make life easier in and around the home.

June 20, 1998|MARK CHALON SMITH

THE WORD

In and out: Pedro E. Guerrero's "Calder at Home: The Joyous Environment of Alexander Calder" ($40, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1998) and Cynthia Van Hazinga's "Flower Gardening Secrets: Sensible Advice from Seasoned Gardeners" ($12.95, Time-Life Books, 1998).

Calderized: Photographer Guerrero first met famed artist Alexander Calder on assignment for House and Garden in the '60s. He showed up at one of the three Calder houses to do the mag's usual celebrity pictorial--beautiful interior shots from the pads of the well-to-do.

But the mix of mess and utilitarian genius was all wrong for Home and Garden, which wanted something more pristine. Guerrero, however, saw an opportunity and went on to photograph Calder and the ever-changing assemblages that were his homes.

Calder, it turned out, took his inspiration everywhere. Like other artists (notably, Picasso), he moved from work in his studio to work in the everyday, never losing track of his design impulses. When not making his celebrated mobiles, stationary sculptures and paintings, he'd be creating forks and spoons, reclining chairs, toilet seats or whatever else grabbed him.

Little escaped Guerrero's camera, and the photos, which span several years, focus both on Calder's environment and the life he shared with his wife. There are also several shots of Calder's art, much of it familiar to only the most dedicated students of this whimsical man.

Almanac: Hazinga's book, the latest in the the Old Farmer's Almanac Home Library series, is bursting with arcana, some of it obscure, but most helpful.

Want to grow a "nectar garden" to attract butterflies and hummingbirds? Hazinga explains how. Are mice and other pests eating your bulbs? Use holly to keep the troublemakers away. Hazinga also shows which pests are good for the garden and should be prized, not squashed.

The list goes on: Hazinga decodes those confusing symbols and information on the back of seed packages and explains why bananas can be great for roses. The book has only the simplest illustrations but makes up for its unassuming looks with all those facts.

THE WEB

Blossoming: Readers often ask for the latest flower Web sites. Here's a pair to add to the long list of bulb and petal destinations.

Rhodies and Dr. Perry: The Rhododendron Page \o7 (http://www.nextas.com/~mckenzi1/rhodo05.html) \f7 claims rhododendrons may be the world's most beautiful flower and tries hard to prove it. This is an extensive, well-done site with much info on the history and cultivation of the flower.

Besides tips on planting and care, there's a section of rhododendron minutiae. For one, there are more than 800 varieties thriving around the globe. For another, in the Himalayas, the rhododendron tree can grow as tall as 100 feet.

Dr. Leonard Perry is a greenhouse and nursery expert who runs Perry's Perennial Page \o7 (http://www.uvm.edu/~pass/perry/). \f7 Here, you can learn about dozens of perennials, including the "perennial of the month." The site is frequently updated with facts and colorful, downloadable photos of many species.

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