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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Bill Terry, from the Sunshine coast of British Columbia, has filled a small book ("Blue Heaven") with an ode of praise to Meconopsis grandis, the Himalayan Blue Poppy. His cultural advice will encourage the favored few living in a climate that will nurture this hard-to-please jewel (along with some more easily managed companions like candelabra primulas and other poppies), but anyone can enjoy this display of plant passion at its highest level.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: From Oregon, Timber Press editor-in-chief Tom Fischer has created his own book, "Perennial Companions," that demonstrates 100 design combinations using herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. I found it best to look at the right hand, full page photographs first (almost like a flip book), then stopping at my favorites to read the interpretive material on the matching left hand page.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Enjoy it. These final two words of the sub-title to Valerie Easton's new book, "The NEW Low-Maintenance Garden" are the key to her message. Other low maintenance manuals treat the garden as a bothersome necessity to having a house; here the emphasis in on the joy of the garden, without it taking over your life.

Organized by broad themes, including "Design with Maintenance in Mind" and "Nature's Rhythms", Easton augments her points with interviews of an impressive list of designers, gardeners, and home owners who have created a successful outdoor space. She completes each chapter with a list of books and other resources (once a librarian...) and throughout there are oodles of tips for simplification. Best of all, she gives the type A gardener permission to relax, and to find the pleasure of it all again.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Linda Chalker-Scott debunks many gardening practices that don't work in "The Informed Gardener Blooms Again," a sequel to her excellent "The Informed Gardener" from 2008. The format is very similar to the first book, built around a series of short chapters with Sherlock Holmesian titles ("The Myth of the Magic Bullet", "The Myth of Nitrogen-nabbing Wood Chips") that analyze horticultural fads and home remedies from an applied, scientific perspective. After a thorough discussion of the research, a helpful summary ("The Bottom Line") follows, along with references to support her conclusions.

Chalker-Scott clearly has a passion for bringing science based, best practices to both home gardens and professional landscapes, as she has also edited and published "Sustainable Landscapes & Gardens: Good Science-Practical Application." Divided into five, separately bound units--all housed in a three-ring binder--this work has contributors from major universities throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The audience here could be either the home gardener or the professional who designs, installs, or maintains landscape plantings. The writing, while technical, is well-edited for readability for the non-academic reader and teaches not only better horticulture, but also about the research process that generates this advice. The format is designed for easily added updates and additions, so this is likely to be an important reference for our region for a long time.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "The Climate Conscious Gardener" is the latest in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Guides for a Greener Planet. While most of the contributing authors live in the Northeast, one of the five chapters, "Turning Your Landscape into a Carbon Sink," was written by Arboretum Foundation staff member Niall Dunne. To give an objective perspective, I'll quote from a review in HortIdeas (published by Greg and Pat Williams in Gravel Switch, Kentucky -- so no regional bias here): "Dunne's chapter alone is worth getting the book...with valuable information on numerous techniques for sequestering carbon in backyard gardens. Wouldn't it be great if amateurs throughout the U.S. could keep a really huge amount of carbon out of the atmosphere?"

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "Greening Cities, Growing Communities" is a case study of community gardens in Seattle. Written by landscape architects, this book is an excellent tool for supporters of community gardens in making their case in language understandable to urban planners and policy makers. For those of us already convinced, the breadth of activities at the profiled gardens will be surprising, and you could use this book as a unique travel guide to the Emerald City.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest" is another in the fine series of Timber Press Field Guide. Like earlier works on wildflowers and insects, it's well designed to be a good field companion with a coated cover, a ruler on the back, and frequently needed facts easily found on the inside covers.

Particularly good is the long introduction which addresses subjects from the ecology of mushroom-fungi, the hazards of hunting in the Pacific Northwest, to "How to avoid becoming a poisoning statistic." Unlike many field guides, the text in the descriptive encyclopedia is in narrative form, rather than having set descriptive elements for each species. Not being a mushroom hunter, I can't vouch for the effectiveness at identification by this approach, but I found it enjoyable reading.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: While there have been earlier guides to our regional mushrooms, "Sedges of the Pacific Northwest" is breaking new ground by being "an illustrated guide to all 163 species, subspecies, and varieties in the genus Carex that occur in Oregon and Washington." According to Katie Murphy, manager of the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium of the UW Botanic Gardens, this book is far better than other floras at distinguishing between these often very similar species, and fills a much needed gap in the botanist's reference shelf.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: For a total change of pace, pick up Jack Nisbet's "The Collector." Although written in the third person, the story-telling is so good that it reads like a memoir by one of the most influential of the early plant explorers to our region. David Douglas was a keen observer of all things in the natural world, but especially the plant kingdom, and had a natural talent for the recording, collecting, and preserving what he found. And what energy! From 1823 until his tragic death in 1834, Scotsman Douglas was almost constantly exploring the new world, risking many hazards of travels and meeting many interesting people in both academic and frontier life.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "Pacific Northwest Native Plant Habitat Garden Manual" is a short, loose-leaf bound notebook intended to give the basics for teachers and students establishing school gardens using natives.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "Living With Bugs" concentrates on the critters that find their way into your house, but there are valuable tips on co-existing for gardeners, too.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "In My Nature: A Birder's Year at the Montlake Fill" describes the wonderful bird life of the area also known as the Union Bay Natural Area at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2010 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Sarah Reichard, the recently appointed Director of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, is also the author of an important new book for gardeners: The Conscientious Gardener: Cultivating a Garden Ethic. In reviewing this book, I must make a full disclosure--Sarah is also my new boss and someone I've known and worked with for many years.

Reichard rightfully challenges gardeners to think outside of our individual gardens and see our role in the bigger system of both human endeavors and the natural world, and to see both the good and bad we can do. But she knows that being "good" isn't easy! And being a long-time teacher, she uses a skillful blend of storytelling, humor, and breaking things down to easy steps to make her message understood but not overwhelming.

For example, in her chapter "Aliens among Us", Reichard begins with the story of her concerns about introducing invasive plant species during a seed collecting trip early in her career. The scarcity of existing research led her to become a leader in the study of what makes plants invasive and the establishment and advocacy of guidelines for plant introductions in horticulture.

Recounting all this could be pretty heavy going, but she keeps it succinct and lightened with side boxes such as the role of the automobile ("Driving the Daisy") in seed dispersion. Then, she both encourages, "Gardeners, take action!", and tells how to do it, "Read on to plan your attack!" Like all chapters, this one ends with a set of Guidelines, very practical and doable steps each of us can take.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2011 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Most field botany guides help with identifying the most common trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Washington takes a very different approach by choosing as its subjects over 300 of the rarest plants, ferns, and lichens in the state.

Why do this? Editors Pamela Camp and John G. Gamon, and the many contributors, anticipate that by helping both professional and amateur botanists in recognizing and identifying rare plants, this will promote conservation of these plants. The hope is also to engage more "...nature enthusiasts, opening a window into the beauty and diversity of Washington's rare flora."

That said, this book takes a solid base of botanical knowledge to appreciate. Selections are arranged alphabetically by genus within four broad plant types (lichens, ferns, dicots, and monocots). This means you must identify an unknown plant to the genus level before you can make use of the detailed plant and habitat descriptions to determine if you've found something rare. Most entries have line drawings and both close-up and site photographs, but these are for fine-tuning identification and not for the beginner.

Besides its value to the keen botanists, this book makes an important contribution to keeping pace with changes in taxonomy and nomenclature, and in linking different resources for this information. For example, each entry includes the name (if different) used in the standard reference Flora of the Pacific Northwest (Hitchcock and Cronquist, 1973). It also preserves in a book format much information that was only available in "...earlier loose-leaf and online treatments of many the species included..."

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2011 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Among my favorites of recent new books is Lakewold: A Magnificent Northwest Garden. It reminds me of a well-crafted exhibit catalog, beginning with detail from an oil painting of the garden on the cover.

Inside a rich history of photographs--dating from the early 20th century and drawing from most decades since then--tell the story of a dynamic garden. As a gardener, I appreciated seeing the old and the new, the changes and what stayed, and the large scale, formal plantings that gave way to simpler plans.

The style and quality of the book is not surprising as the editor is Ronald Fields, Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Puget Sound, who has been a docent for Lakewold since it opened to the public in 1989. The choice and layout of photographs is quite engaging, and includes unexpected hardscape details, many close-ups of signature plants, and the people who shaped the garden--primarily Eulalie Wagner and Thomas Church.

Several short essays provide their own history, including those written by local horticultural luminaries Valerie Easton, Dan Hinkley, and Steve Lorton, recounting visits to Lakewold early in their careers. Other sections highlight the vitality of the garden that continues today and its importance amongst the great estate gardens in the country.

If nothing else, this book will make you want to visit Lakewold. We are very fortunate to have this garden close-by, open to the public, and continuing the vision and spirit of those who developed and shaped it.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2011 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

David George Gordon wrote a delightful booklet (48 pages) in 1994 titled Field Guide to the Slug. After chuckling over the concept, I found there was a lot of information packed in those few pages.

The Secret World of Slugs and Snails greatly expands the earlier work by not only including snails, but also the natural and cultural histories--yes, including cooking suggestions and even shell collecting--of these incredible creatures. For the even more adventurous, there is a short essay on keeping slugs as pets. For example, banana slugs have a good temperament for this (the author has a pair named Chiquita and Dole) but they will overheat in the typical household.

The final chapter is where most gardeners might begin: "Sharing Our Gardens: Coexisting with Slugs and Snails" but unlike in most gardening books, slugs and snails are not portrayed as an indisputable enemy. Yes, there are suggestions on how to both discourage and eliminate them, but the gardener is urged to have a heart and not apply salt as "...salting causes undue pain for the slug."

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2011 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

The Gardener's Color Palette at first glance is a pretty book, but I was prepared to dismiss it as having little information of consequence. However, like with most books, it is important to read the author's introduction. Tom Fischer's second sentence summarizes his intent: "Flowers are nature's most direct and accessible route to enjoying the pure pleasures of color."

As an experienced gardener, I was already familiar with almost all of the one hundred flowers (mostly herbaceous perennials) profiled. I know their size, habits, foliage, texture, and even fragrance, or lack of one. And color, of course. Or so I thought. Fischer, and the superb photographs of Clive Nichols, invites you to isolate color from all other qualities.

This is best done on the beginning page of each of the ten color groups, with thumbnail style, tight close-ups of the full view examples that follow. Here, the shape of the flower is gone; all that is left is the color. It's quite a change in perspective.

The text gives a brief but insightful and often witty description of each plant, but the most valuable advice is for suggested companions, complimentary color ranges, or little gems like this entry on joe-pye weeds: "Their pinks and purples have a slightly dusty quality, which isn't necessarily a drawback; in fact, a hot fuchsia joe-pye weed would be terrifying--what on earth would you do with it?"

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2011 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Thru the lens: 50 years of the Japanese Garden is a nearly hour-long documentary that explores both the history and current activities in the garden. Several docents, gardeners, and supporters are interviewed. I found the in-depth presentation of the tea ceremony particularly interesting. This documentary has a limited availability, but can be viewed with headsets at the Miller Library.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2011 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: A stroll through the first 50 years of the Seattle Japanese Garden is a PowerPoint presentation with slides and narration, focused on the founding of the garden--with many historical photographs--and significant changes up to the present. This documentary has a limited availability, but can be viewed with headsets at the Miller Library.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2011 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Cottonwood and the River of Time by Rienhard Stettler explores an unlikely topic, cottonwood trees and their kin including poplars and aspens. A retired University of Washington professor of forestry, the author writes an engaging natural history beginning with a single tree, an old matriarch near the Snoqualmie River. While eventually global in scope, many of the examples continue to be set in the Pacific Northwest.

While many of the titles from the middle chapters may look a bit dull, e.g., "Natural Hybridization" and "Adaptation and Its Limits", the writing is quite engaging and aimed at a general audience. The book concludes with cultural history of poplars--the importance of poplars in agriculture, forestry, and landscapes.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2011 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Anna Pavord's The Naming of Names sets the groundwork for the system of nomenclature we use so freely today. More than just names, this book chronicles the development of human understanding of plants, how they live and propagate, but most importantly how we've come to identify and categorized them.

While beginning in the classical period, the core of this story is set in the revival of science during the Renaissance, from about 1400 - 1700. Pavord treats her human subjects as protagonists in a story of the development of the science of botany, and while supported with excellent scholarship, the writing is also very passionate.

The last hero of her narrative is the English scholar and plantsman John Ray (1627-1705), who she credits with the invention of the discipline of taxonomy. "No fireworks, no claps of thunder, no swelling symphonic themes mark Ray's achievement. It is a quiet, lonely, dogged consummation, and, in its insistence on the importance of method before system, critical in shaping future thinking on the subject to which he had devoted the whole of his adult life."

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2012 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Andrea Wulf, in The Brother Gardeners (2010), starts at the beginning of the 18th century. Up to that time gardening was "traditionally the preserve of the aristocracy...now, amateur gardeners began to take an obsessive interest in their smaller plots." Her focus is on the transformation in England, but much of this was fueled by the interchange with American gardeners and particularly the importing of American plants to English gardens.

Most compelling is the four decades of correspondence between Peter Collinson (1694-1768), a merchant and avid gardener in London, and John Bartram (1699-1777), a farmer and self-taught botanist near Philadelphia. Bartram regularly shipped boxes of seeds, pressed plants, and occasionally live plants, while in exchange Collinson would ship books and tools, and even clothes for Bartram's family.

Collinson would use his connections to introduce Bartram wealthy and learned Americans, hoping to find new and different plants. These introductions came with specific instructions, "'Pray go very Clean, neat & handsomely Dressed to Virginia' and don't 'Disgrace thyself or Mee.'" As time passed, however, the roles changed as the farmer from the colonies began to assert his importance in these exchanges, forcing Collinson and his clients from the English learned class to recognize Bartram's knowledge, skills, and importance to their endeavors.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2012 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker: Traveler and Plant Collector (2001) by Ray Desmond is a marvelous travelogue, masking as a biography. Our hero took two multi-year expeditions (to Antarctica, New Zealand, and Australia from 1839-1843; and to India and the Himalayas from 1847-1851) as well as shorter trips to Morocco, Palestine, and the United States.

All the while he was observing, documenting, and collecting plants, leading to the publications of the native floras of these regions. Even better for us today, he was sketching the plants, landscapes, native peoples, and many other attractions. These sketches, and the botanical illustrations made by others from them, make this a richly illustrated book.

The text is engaging, detailing the trials of travel for both man and plants. Hooker "coped remarkably well with the rigours of botanising in the Himalayas. This he attributed to abstinence...a diet of meat and potatoes, and never over-eating."

"His problems as a plant collector did not cease with the boxing and parceling of plants and seeds. Sometimes they were lost or dropped into rivers on the journey to Calcutta; often they died before they reached the port." He tried wrapping seeds in "tins, oilcloth wrapping, paper packets. Sometimes he posted them in letters. But...too often they reached their destination damp or rotting or eaten by insects."



Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2012 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-10-09
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Philip Pauly was a professor of history at Rutgers University. His book, Fruits and Plains , was published by Harvard University Press. These are high academic credentials for a book that at first glance appears to be about gardening. But this is no ordinary gardening book. As suggested by the sub-title, The Horticultural Transformation of America (2009), this is a serious study of the importance of horticulture to all aspects of American life particularly from the founding of the country well into the 20th century.

The key here is the term horticulture. To Pauly, "In general conversation it is an upmarket synonym for gardening" and includes the design, selection, and maintenance of plants in private and public gardens. But he uses the term more broadly and claims that in the 1800s, "horticulture was equivalent to what is now call plant biotechnology."

The early history he recounts is focused on utility of gardens, particularly fruit producing trees and shrubs. Later he turns to arboriculture, highlighting the arguments for and against native and exotics species; century old arguments that continue today.

But of perhaps greatest interest is chapter nine, "Culturing Nature in the Twentieth Century". Here are some keen insights to focus of gardeners today and the cultural environment at the time of the founding of the Washington Park Arboretum.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2012 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-10-09
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime (2007) is not an easy book to read. The descriptions of the front lines, prison camps, Jewish ghettos, and Japanese internment camps from the first half of the 20th century are brutal, detailed, and very unsettling.

But this is also an important book to read. For those faced with the extremes of human suffering, "Gardens conformed to the expected cycle of seasons and growth and life; a garden was a demonstration of life in order, not a world turned upside down."

Author Kenneth Helphand is a Pacific Northwest author--a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Oregon. He was motivated to write this book by an image of French soldiers beside their small vegetable gardens created while dug in at the front of World War I. His extensive research led him around the world to visit many of the original sites, even if the gardens are long gone.

While these observations give perspective, the heart of this book are the many personal narratives the author found in his research. These tell of the efforts despite great odds to nurture a garden, of the importance these gardens gave both for sustenance and emotional well-being, and the amazing strength of the human spirit.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2012 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-10-09
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

While addressing a global audience, the Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns by Sue Olsen is one of the very select treasures of Pacific Northwest garden writing and must not be missed, even if you garden on a sunny, dusty slope. In addition to the expected information on cultivation and propagation, Olsen covers the natural history and taxonomy of these fascinating plants, making it of interest to more than just gardeners. The many appendices are excellent, too, with the most intriguing a collection of lists of favorite species by a global who's who of fern specialists, whose gardens range from hardiness zones 4 to 11.

But the heart of the book is the tour of "Ferns from Around the World". At first glance, this resembles many A-Z listings, but there are some key enhancements not often found. Common names are listed, but these are real common names, not made up to fill a slot. The meanings of both the genus and specific epithet are given, the latter particularly useful with ferns. The description is thorough without the mind-numbing detail of many botanic writings. And the photographs are superlative, with almost all taken by the author.

This is all very good, but Olsen is at her best in the "Culture and Comments" sections. This is where you can tell what she knows is from first-hand experience, and shows of her skills as a writer, too. "Most polystichums are considered horticulturally hardy (which means temperate rather than "easy" as in some interpretations)."

Her stories will resonate with any gardener. "When my lone plant is threatened with sweeping arctic freezes, I cover it with horticultural gauze. My last carefully spread protective blanket for such nurturing was carried away by a presumably needy crow and found the following morning in the upper limbs of a neighbor's tree. The fern survived." And at carefully spaced moments, shares her passion. "This is THE species that inspired my interest in cultivation, propagation, and immersion in the wonderful world of ferns". This last sentence is in praise of Dryopteris erythrosora, the Autumn fern.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Summer 2012 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-10-09
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Bamboo for Gardens is written by Washington State resident, Ted Meredith. While most of the photos are close-ups of their subject, it's fun to see rhododendrons or a Douglas fir lurking in the background of wider shots.

Wherever you live, this would be an important and useful book. While there is the expected A-Z encyclopedia of species, it is unusual that the introductory material--such as culture, propagation, uses in the landscape--fills more than half the book. Some unexpected treasures can be found here, including the use of bamboo in both traditional and modern economies, and tips on eating bamboo.

You will learn, for example, that the shoots of Qiongzhuea tumidissinoda "are considered exceptional." The fun continues in the encyclopedia section as we learn that this same, nearly unpronounceable species, which hails from central China, is harvested for walking sticks, and "...is the subject of history, myth, and fable in Chinese culture, dating back to at least the Han Dynasty in the first or second century B.C."

While the author keeps the writing interesting, the more mundane information is very solid, including his discussions of how to deal with "...an attack from the demonic plant that invaded unexpectedly and ceaselessly, and could not be stopped or killed." With the voice of experience and fondness that one might expect to be used on an errant puppy, Meredith carefully explains the different methods of containment for running bamboo.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Summer 2012 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-10-09
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Garden Tool:

Conifers of California is a delightful introduction to many of our native conifers, as well as the incredible diversity of these cone bearing trees to be found further down the coast. Author Ronald M. Lanner writes what could be best described as a biography of each tree, telling the natural history and the interaction of each with humans and animals. While there are helpful descriptions, (including "At a distance", "Standing beneath it", and "In the hand"), this is not primarily a field guide.

The photographs are excellent, but a bigger visual draw are the botanical paintings by Eugene Otto Walter Murman (1874-1962), which besides being beautiful, clearly show the distinctiveness of the cones, cone scales, seeds, needles in a single bundle, and a growing tip. Adding to the history are quotes by some of the great describers of trees, including Charles Sprague Sargent, John Muir, and, one of my favorites, Donald Culross Peattie.

I'm adding Lanner to this list. His descriptions of the relationship between the Clark's nutcracker and whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis), or the unusual combinations of factors that lead to the long, long lives of the bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva), are detailed and lengthy but totally engaging.

Of incense-cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) he explains how forestry practices have led to a population explosion of this tree little valued by the timber industry. This is "...good for those Americans who eschew the use of greasy-inked ballpoint pens, because incense-cedar is the unrivaled champion of available domestic pencilwoods. It may not be so good for those...who must past through thickets...for those thin dead, lower limbs seem always positioned to welt a cheek or poke an unsuspecting eye."

Many of the rarer California conifers can be found in the Arboretum and this book is a good introduction. Look for the Coulter pine (Pinus coulteri) but don't stand under its eight pound cones "with talonlike appendages", while from the Siskiyou Mountains comes the weeping Brewer spruce (Picea breweriana) with "long, dark-foliaged, pendulous branches."

Edward Anderson was for 30 years a biology professor at Whitman College in Walla Walla before finishing his career at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. The Cactus Family is the culmination of his life's work as, sadly, he died shortly after publication, but more importantly because it will be a long-time standard reference for these popular plants.

While not a gardener's book--a chapter on cultivation is included but is by a different author--this provides a superb view of the remarkable diversity of cacti, well captured by excellent photographs, most by the author and many in situ. Highly recommend, too, are the chapters on ethnobotany and conservation of cacti, which illustrate how important these plants have been and continue to be throughout their range in North and South America.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Summer 2012 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-10-09
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

In Native Trees for North American Landscapes: From the Atlantic to the Rockies , the sub-title is very important as trees native only west of the Rockies are excluded. But almost all trees that are included can be found in the Arboretum, and many are widely planted in our region and are available in nurseries.

As the title suggests, authors Guy Sternberg and Jim Wilson address their book to gardeners and landscape designers, but there is also much here to interest those who love trees for their place in the natural landscape and as interwoven with human history. The quality and diversity of the photography is impressive, and well linked with the engaging text.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Summer 2012 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-10-09
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Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Many of the over 7,000 vascular plant species of California described in "The Jepson Manual" can also be found in the Pacific Northwest.

The name perhaps needs clarification. Willis Linn Jepson was an early 20th century botanist who published several books on California flora, including the first that was both comprehensive and statewide for vascular plants ("A Manual of the Flowering Plants of California"--1925). The 1993 first edition of "The Jepson Manual" honored his memory, and this new edition continues that honor while incorporating new discoveries and the many changes in botanical systematics of the last twenty years.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2012 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-10-09
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June 24 2013 12:55:25