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Greenhouses Offer Ambience

November 18, 2000|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BOOKS

A greenhouse probably isn't one of the first things gardeners think about here. This is the land of the great outdoors, where plant-wilting frost is rare. But Shane Smith says reconsider: His "Greenhouse Gardener's Companion" ($22, Fulcrum Publishing, 2000) stresses that they're as much about ambience as practicality.

"What is it about a greenhouse or sun space that feels good to almost everyone?" Smith writes. "It's more than just a stimulation of our senses. It goes deeper, further back. The tropics were the womb of human life, and the greenhouse is a connection to our origins."

If that sounds like a dab of hyperbole, just take Smith's point that the greenhouse--with its humid, fragrant air and lush foliage--is a pleasant place to hang out, no matter what the weather. His 498-page paperback tells you how to build one, what to put in it and the steps to keep all the flowers and plants thriving through the year. Although he enjoys a good musing every now and then, Smith is generally all business and his suggestions are easy to follow. Besides basic designs and approaches, some of the areas he covers are soil makeup and temperature, microclimates, bugs (both nasty and kind), specialized mulches, hothouse orchids and biotechnology as it relates to the garden.

Simple Interiors

Atlanta Bartlett's stance on making your pad nicer is pretty easy: Keep it simple and jazz it all up with judicious color and furniture pieces. Her "The Comforts of Home" ($30, HarperCollins Publishers, 2000) is similar to many recent design books, but does have lots of doable ideas and photos to show how they should look.

With their mostly airy interiors, these spaces do seem inviting. The book is divided into sections, including "relaxed sensuality" (think bedroom), "relaxed eclectic" (get out those flea market finds), "relaxed elegance" (may have to spend some dough with this one) and "relaxed simplicity" (notions that most folks--even low-maintenance guys--can live with).

THE WEB: Find Your Roses on the Internet

The rose, as reader Jana Cormier puts it, "has to be the unchallenged queen" of all popular flowers.

Cormier, who lives in Fountain Valley, went on in a recent e-mail: "My garden is thick with them and I love getting pictures of roses [off the Internet]. My favorite place to go is the American Rose Society [http://www.ars.org]Maybe others, especially rose freaks like me, will like to go there too."

The society's pages are, indeed, very rosy, with colorful photos, facts, cultivation tips and contest announcements. But it's not alone in its rose reverence.

Here are two of the best destinations, both having updated their sections recently:

Yesterday's Rose (http://www.Country-Lane.com/yr) has more than 100 varieties displayed, with info including which are thornless and which require less watering.

Rose Resource (http://www.rose.org) is almost as thorough as the Society's pages. It provides much of the same--common-sense pointers and pretty graphics--but also has a link devoted to the flower's arcane history.

* To have a book or Web site considered for

this column, send information to: Home Design, The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Mark Chalon Smith can also be reached by e-mail

at mark.smith@latimes.com.

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