Pleasant, Barbara

views updated

PLEASANT, Barbara

PERSONAL: Born in Mobile, AL; children: Madison (daughter). Education: University of Alabama, B.S., M.S.W. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, cooking, hiking, biking, and reading.

ADDRESSES: Home—Brevard, NC. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Storey Publishing, 210 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247; fax: 413-346-2199. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Author, lecturer, and gardening expert. Has worked as a mental health counselor in New Orleans, LA, and in child welfare offices in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, AL.

MEMBER: Garden Writer's Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Garden Globe Award of Achievement, Garden Writers Association, 2002; Quill and Trowel Award (two-time winner), Garden Writers Association; award from American Nursery and Landscape Association; Honorary Alabama Master Gardener Award.

WRITINGS:

The Handbook of Southern Vegetable Gardening, illustrated by Walter Cumming, Peachtree Publishers (Atlanta, GA), 1984.

Warm-Climate Gardening: Tips, Techniques, Plans, Projects for Humid or Dry Conditions, Storey Communications (Pownal, VT), 1993.

The Gardener's Bug Book: Earth-safe Insect Control, Storey Communications (Pownal, VT), 1994.

The Gardener's Guide to Plant Diseases: Earth-safe Remedies, Storey Communications (Pownal, VT), 1995.

The Gardener's Weed Book: Earth-safe Controls, illustrated by Regina Hughes and Bobbi Angell, Storey Communications (Pownal, VT), 1996.

Controlling Garden Weeds, Storey Publishing (Pownal, VT), 1997.

Cutting Gardens, National Home Gardening Club (Minneapolis, MN), 1997.

Easy Garden Projects for All Seasons, Taylor Publishing Company (Dallas, TX), 1997.

Container Gardens, National Home Gardening Club (Minetonka, MN), 1997.

(Author of text) Lawns and Ground Covers, Oxmoor House (Birmingham, AL), 1997.

(Author of text) Beds and Borders, Oxmoor House (Birmingham, AL), 1998.

(With Katie Lamar Smith) Ortho's All about Vegetables, Meredith Books (Des Moines, IA), 1999.

Gardening Essentials, National Home Gardening Club (Minnetonka, MN), 1999.

Annual Flowers, National Home Gardening Club (Minnetonka, MN), 2000.

Better Gardens, Less Work, National Home Gardening Club (Minnetonka, MN), 2001.

Garden Stone: Creative Ideas, Practical Projects, and Inspiration for Purely Decorative Uses, with photographs by Dency Kane, Storey Publishing (North Adams, MA), 2002, published as Garden Stone: Creative Landscaping with Plants and Stone, 2002.

The Southern Garden Advisor, Cool Springs Press (Nashville, TN), 2003.

The Whole Herb: For Cooking, Crafts, Gardening, Health, and Other Joys of Life, Square One Publishers (Garden City Park, NY), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Gardening for Dummies, The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, Seed to Seed, Annuals for Dummies, and Gardener's Home Companion. Contributor to periodicals, including Carolina Gardener and Herb Companion. Contributing editor to Mother Earth News. Contributing editor to Organic Gardening, 1984-1990. Regional columnist, National Gardening Web site and Gardening How-To magazine.

SIDELIGHTS: Prolific author, editor, and gardening expert Barbara Pleasant is the author of a variety of works covering aspects of creating and maintaining gardens. Her books cover topics such as growing vegetables and flowers; dealing with plant diseases, weeds, and insect pests; growing and using herbs; maintaining lawns and ground cover; and gardening in the southern climates of the United States. "Take care of a garden," Pleasant reported in an article posted on the Barbara Pleasant Home Page, "and it will take care of you."

Following graduation from the University of Alabama, she worked for two years as a mental health counselor in New Orleans, Louisiana. After earning a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Alabama, Pleasant worked in child welfare in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. "Then I learned the craft of writing and changed careers," she noted on her home page, and stated: "Now I have the best job in the world," writing about gardening, serving as contributing editor to Mother Earth News, and giving lectures to garden clubs, botanical gardens, and Master Gardener organizations. Pleasant's works have earned her numerous awards, including the Garden Globe Award, and she has been named an honorary Alabama master gardener. "I have yet to find a type of gardening that I don't like," Pleasant said in a profile on the National Gardening Web site. "Every time I try something new, I'm hooked."

Pleasant is well versed in the practical aspects of gardening, and a number of her books address common pests and annoyances that gardeners might encounter. In The Gardener's Guide to Plant Diseases: Earth-safe Remedies, Pleasant explains diseases that affect more than fifty vegetable and fruit plants commonly grown throughout the United States. She covers more than fifty plant diseases, including exotically named conditions such as corn smut, halo blight, southern bacterial wilt, and apple scab. She suggests a number of organic, environmentally-safe methods of stopping and controlling the diseases. She focuses on "disease control strategies that do not pollute the air, water, or soil," noted Booklist reviewer George Cohen, and stresses methods of improving plants' ability to fight and resist disease.

Similarly, in The Gardener's Weed Book: Earth-safe Controls, Pleasant offers proven, environmentally safe methods for fighting the gardener's most common bane. "Pleasant's book is designed to give gardeners a little more strategic intelligence of the enemy's strengths and weaknesses to help them wage war successfully," commented Walt Reichert in Countryside and Small Stock Journal. "The book also shows gardeners ways to use weeds to advantage." Pleasant provides detailed information on weeds, including how they get into gardens, how they reproduce themselves, and what the presence of a particular weed means about the quality of the soil. She covers non-polluting weed-control methods and alternatives to using herbicides. The book also includes an illustrated Gallery of Mainstream Weeds, which provides comprehensive information on weeds gardeners might commonly encounter. "The weed is described in great detail, and the accompanying illustration identifies the weed's leaves, seed stalks, flowers, and sometimes roots," Reichert noted. The gallery is "the most useful part of Pleasant's book," Reichert stated. Pleasant caps off the book with a discussion of the often-overlooked advantages of some weeds, such as their potential use as ornamentation, their medicinal uses, and the benefits they bring to the soil.

Garden Stone: Creative Landscaping with Plants and Stone offers tips and techniques for using stone as a structural component and decorative complement for gardens and landscaping projects. The book includes step-by-step instructions for creating terraces, retaining walls, walkways, and other structures. "Pleasant illustrates the distinction between stone that is simply placed in the garden and stone that is truly of the garden," commented Carol Haggas in Booklist.

In The Whole Herb: For Cooking, Crafts, Gardening, Health, and Other Joys of Life, Pleasant explores the many uses for herbs and herbal preparations. She covers the wide use of herbs in cooking, their place as ornamental and aromatic source, and the diverse use of herbs in medicine. The book contains careful reference material on the characteristics and applications of particular herbs. Pleasant gives budding herbalists instructions on how to grow, care for, process, and preserve herbs. "Beginning herbalists will find an expert's worth of knowledge in this holistic guide to everything one can possibly do with herbs," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Booklist, June 15, 1995, George Cohen, review of The Gardener's Guide to Plant Diseases: Earth-safe Remedies, p. 885; April 1, 1996, George Cohen, review of The Gardener's Weed Book: Earth-safe Controls, p. 1335; February 1, 2002, Carol Haggas, review of Garden Stone: Creative Ideas, Practical Projects, and Inspiration for Purely Decorative Uses, p. 914.

Country Living Gardener, April, 2002, Rebecca Sawyer-Fay, review of Garden Stone: Creative Ideas, Practical Projects, and Inspiration for Purely Decorative Uses, p. 94.

Countryside & Small Stock Journal, November-December, 1996, Walt Reichert, review of The Gardener's Weed Book: Earth-safe Controls, p. 79.

Library Journal, June 1, 2002, Jonathan Hershey, review of Garden Stone, p. 190; May 1, 2004, Bonnie Poquette, review of The Whole Herb: For Cooking, Crafts, Gardening, Health, and Other Joys of Life, p. 133.

Publishers Weekly, March 29, 1991, Molly McQuade, review of The Gardener's Home Companion, p. 91; March 15, 2004, review of The Whole Herb, p. 70.

Wall Street Journal, September 9, 1996, Patti Hagan, review of The Gardener's Weed Book: Earth-safe Controls, p. A14.

online

Barbara Pleasant Home Page, http://www.barbarapleasant.com (November 12, 2004), "Barbara Pleasant."

Farmer's Market Online, http://www.farmersmarketonline.com/ (November 12, 2004), review of Garden Stone: Creative Landscaping with Plants and Stone.

National Gardening Web site, http://www.garden.org/ (December 5, 2004), "Barbara Pleasant."*