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Slow flowers: New Jersey cut flower growers

A field of lilacs from "The 50 Mile Bouquet." Photo by David E. Perry Books about flowers are a source of inspiration for both florists and do-it-yourself floral arrangers.

In her two books “The 50-Mile Bouquet” and “Slow Flowers,” garden and design writer Debra Prinzing goes beyond the beauty to explore the environmental and social impacts of floristry.

Credited with helping to spearhead the floral equivalent to the slow-food movement, Prinzing advocates bouquets of seasonal flowers grown close to home. Her earlier book “Flower Confidential” examines the worldwide floral industry, and while researching it, she came across many independent flower growers.

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New Jersey: Time to start tomato seeds indoors  

Ramapo tomatoes on the vine / Photo by Peter Nitzsche Anticipation of the flavor of home-grown tomatoes gets many a novice into the garden, and if you are planning tomatoes started from seed in central New Jersey, it's almost time to get things growing inside.

The tomato experts at Rutgers Cooperative Extension tell us that May 15 is typically the date when the danger of frost has passed and it's safe to begin planting outdoors.

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New Jersey gardens: A secret garden blooms in Scotch Plains

Barbara Ann and Joe TimkoPhotos by Patricia Samuelian

Story by Kimberly L. Jackson

Barbara Ann Timko has at least three of the Top 10 qualities that would be on almost anyone's good neighbor list: She's funny, friendly and very fond of flowers.

Talk to her for even a few minutes, and the plant-love is apparent. Visit her home on Seneca Road in Scotch Plains and you'll see confirmation that she's the plant-aholic  she claims to be.

“I think my problem is that I love plants so much that I keep buying them. And then I tell my husband, 'we have to make this garden bigger.' “

And that is how her garden grew.  “I had no vision,” she confesses.

But the result of the more than 10 years she and her husband, Joe, have put into their landscape is an enviable front-yard garden with a porch from which to admire their work.

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How to start a garden: "Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Gardening" can help 

Container gardens should start with potting soil, and not garden soil, for best results, according to the "Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Gardening." An experienced gardener who has done lots of digging and deadheading will know the right tool for the job.

But for the garden novice, it might be difficult to sort out when to use a spade or a shovel, or to understand the various uses for all those snips and shears.

For such challenges, there’s lots of help in the new “Beginner’s Illustrated Guide to Gardening: Techniques to Help You Get Started” (Cool Springs Press, $21.99). Author Katie Elzer-Peters not only shows nearly every implement that can be useful in the garden, she has tips to navigate garden centers, explains how to read seed packets and plant tags, and defines gardening terms.

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