First, I go way back with Fine Gardening. When I first got into gardening in a big way I survived my first case of winter withdrawal by ordering all of its back issues and it actually helped. Overall, I've probably learned more about gardening from FG than any other single source. So my tiny criticisms are the suggestions of an old friend.
The current issue (labeled February 2006, though it arrived the first week of December) is one of the best. There's a terrific article on what they call sedges and I call carex, a plant group I've come to appreciate more over the years and am happy to see promoted. But why the article barely mentions the fact that it's EVERGREEN and the online version omits that fact altogether, is beyond me. People, that's why it's even more useful than hosta, another plant I love.
Next up, an excellent article on foundation plantings that really pushes the envelope that foundation plantings have been stuffed into for so long. This photo says it all - no more rows of yews.
And almost as if this issue were written as a teaching aid to my coachees, the article on pruning-as-thinning is fabulous, even including a cute illustration of someone who looks like me down on her knees near the center of a shrub. From there she can prune from the bottom up and from the inside out, just like I teach. Although again a there's a curious omission - the article never mentions that thinning allows more air and light to reach the inside of the shrub, the primary benefits I tout for this kind of pruning.
Now to their round-up of Trends in Gardening. I'm happy to report that their various regional correspondents generally agree that naturalistic and eco-friendly is what's happening. You see terms like "sustainable," "drought-tolerant" and "native" used repeatedly. And for the most part, they don't make the now-common mistake of recommending strictly native plants as a panacea for all gardening problems but instead refer to plants that are either native or from a similar climate. There's even the prediction that more plants from dry climates like South Africa and Chile will used in the surprisingly dry Northwest.
One brave designer in Rhode Island goes so far as to buck what's considered politically correct and declare that he doesn't agree with the natives-only requests he's hearing from customers. His position is that "It's not about where you're from; it's about how good a citizen you are. We're a nation of immigrants, and we need to celebrate that. Our country and our gardens will be that much stronger for it." Wow, couldn't have said it better myself.
Finally, it's reported that in the Southeast, "hydrangeas and conifers are hot, hot, hot," to which I say yes, yes, yes. And from Texas we hear about "ample amounts of evergreens" and the importance of planting in masses. Amen.