Elisabeth C. Miller Library logo Miller Library Home UW Botanic Gardens Home UW Botanic Gardens Home book graphic

3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98195 | (206) 543 0415 | Open: | Library Schedule

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for ' Reviews'

PAL Questions: - Garden Tools: 166 - Recommended Websites: 3

Display all answers | Hide all answers


1   |   2      »      

 

Keywords: Reviews, Seeds

Garden Tool:

Thor Hanson's son Noah became fascinated with seeds at an early age. After reading The Triumph of Seeds, this is not surprising. Having a father who could tell such compelling stories could make the commonplace imprint on almost any child.

Adults will find Hanson's stories equally engaging. He is an excellent researcher, weaving the importance of seeds in botany, ecology, and natural history with their significance in both human history and what you are serving for dinner. Why are the seeds of chili peppers hot? What's in it for the coffee bean to be full of caffeine?

These questions have chapter-long answers that introduce a wealth of characters, ranging from Christopher Columbus to Johann Sebastian Bach to a barista in Ballard. Through both history and modern culture the relationships between humans and plants (and animals) are very deep, on-going, and ever developing.

As his son ages, Hanson involves him in his experiments, but the end results are often about more than just the research. Describing the flight of the seed of a Javan cucumber, with its six inch wing, he recalls, "We watched that seed fly for the simple joy of seeing something beautiful doing what it is meant to do. Standing there together, heads tilted skyward, we laughed and laughed until it disappeared from view a papery wisp at the edge of visions, still rising."

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson.

Season: All Season
Date: 2015-04-21
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketThe Conscientious Gardener by Sarah Reichard. (University of California Press, 2011)

Professor and UW Botanic Gardens director Sarah Reichard has her finger on the pulse of the planet in this erudite and accessible book. For those who have become complacent and fixed in their gardening ways, or for those just emerging as gardeners, there is much to learn in this handsome, information-rich volume. Are native plants always the preferred choice in our gardens? Do we really need soil amendments? Are we putting things on our lawns and landscapes that pollute nearby waters? What about those worms making compost in our worm bins: might they be invasive? Readers will discover that doing the right thing in our gardens is not only simpler than one might imagine, but deeply rewarding both personally and globally.

If you have been a persistent (but always polite!) thorn in the side of less conscientious (or simply unaware) gardeners and businesses who are purveyors of ivy and loosestrife, spreaders of weed-and-feed, and sprayers of pesticides, you will feel vindicated! If you have never spoken out before, you will feel inspired to do so! Reichard's clearheaded call to action is well worth heeding.

Reviewed by Plant Answer Line librarian Rebecca Alexander

Season: All Season
Date: 2011-04-06
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacket

You may never have wondered about the etymology of vernacular names for plants, but Geoffrey Grigson, author of A Dictionary of English Plant Names (Allen Lane, 1974), has. Why exactly is 'henbane' (Hyoscyamus niger) the bane of hens, aside from the fact that it is toxic? It might be because the plant thrives on disturbed or hen-scratched earth, where hens would be more likely to find and consume its poisonous seeds (which will either stun or kill them). [There is a more recent interpretation suggesting that the ancient root hen meant death, but the meaning was lost, and relating the name to domestic fowl filled in the knowledge gap. Source: An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology by Anatoly Liberman, University of Minnesota, 2008]

The folk history of traditional English plant names is colorful and captivating. 'Brank-ursine' is a 15th century name meaning bear's claw, describing the shape of an Acanthus mollis flower. One common name for Sedum telephium is 'Midsummer Men,' originating in a loves-me-loves-me-not game of the 17th century in which cook-maids and dairy-maids placed pairs of stems in chinks in the wall and waited to see if they inclined toward or away from each other. Every time I consult this book I learn something new and fascinating.

Review by librarian Rebecca Alexander

Season: All Season
Date: 2015-08-13
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketGrow It, Cook It with Kids by Amanda Grant (Ryland, Peters and Small, 2010)

Parents of enthusiastic young gardeners, and farmers' market shoppers alike will love this useful guide to home-growing and cooking. It features easy, photo-illustrated recipes grouped by their main ingredients, so that chocolate zucchini cake is right next to zucchini salad and stir fry, allowing cooks to choose a recipe based on what they have on hand. Better yet, each chapter begins with step-by-step instructions for growing children's favorites like herbs, peas, beans, and berries.

Reviewed by librarian Laura Blumhagen

Season: All Season
Date: 2011-05-20
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

The Wild Places book jacketThough I will probably never survey my surroundings from the top of a tall beech tree, or climb a frozen waterfall in the dark, I thoroughly enjoyed discovering unspoiled natural areas of Britain through Robert Macfarlane's book The Wild Places (Granta Books , 2007). In richly descriptive prose, he leads the reader to these increasingly rare spots on the map, from saltmarshes and moors to hedgerows and holloways (tunnels of vegetation). Under the tutelage of his friend Roger Deakin (author of Wildwood, who died in 2007), Macfarlane's conception of wildness evolves over the course of his travels to include the humbler, smaller wild places that are within reach of even the most city-bound nature lovers:

"I thought about how the vision of wildness with which I had begun my journeys - inhuman, northern, remote - was starting to crumble from contact with the ground itself... The human and the wild cannot be partitioned. Everywhere that day I had encountered blendings and mixings."

Reviewed by Plant Answer Line librarian Rebecca Alexander

Season: All Season
Date: 2008-12-04
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Informed Gardener jacket

The Informed Gardener Blooms Again by Linda Chalker-Scott, University of Washington Press, 2010

If garden writers were superheroes, Linda Chalker-Scott would be "Mythbuster," able to shatter dearly-held gardening practices with a single paragraph. This follow-up to her influential volume of adapted online columns provides convincing scientific evidence to debunk common practices such as foliar feeding, using epsom salts to deter pests, and releasing ladybugs into the garden. Read this book with an open mind, and your garden (and its environmental impact) might never be the same.

Reviewed by library volunteer Karen Fardal

Season: All Season
Date: 2010-05-06
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketOn Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries by Richard Reynolds, Bloomsbury USA, 2008

Have you ever passed by a patch of barren, overgrown or otherwise neglected ground and thought, "Someone should plant a garden there?" Richard Reynolds not only did, he established and nurtured a garden at his housing block's previously bleak site. And then he went one better, and founded a movement that has spread worldwide. He fervently believes that gardening should not be the exclusive province of those who own property or manage to score a coveted spot at the P-patch. Instead, he advocates taking over landscape installation and maintenance anywhere it is not already being done, or done well, in public and private spaces alike.

Despite his almost comically serious reliance on the language and "lessons" of actual guerrilla warfare (the book starts out with Che and Mao, shows a photo of seed "bombs" in the shape of a 9mm pistol, and gardeners can sign up at www.guerrillagardening.com to get a "troop number"), Reynolds aims to inspire beautification, so half the book is devoted to practical advice. He addresses the myriad issues an aspiring guerrilla gardener must face, from site selection to plant choice for hardiness and maximum visual impact, the non-availability of water, how to discourage vandalism, and, eventually, perhaps legitimize the established garden.

Of course, humans have been sneaking seeds and plants into spaces that are technically not their own for millennia - Reynolds just gave their actions a name and labeled it a cause.

Reviewed by library volunteer Karen Fardal

Season: All Season
Date: 2010-06-03
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketSo You Want to Be a Garden Designer: How to Get Started, Grow, and Thrive in the Landscape Design Business by Love Albrecht Howard, Timber Press, 2010

Love Albrecht Howard's first book fills a gap in our collection. To my knowledge, it is the only recent book on running a garden design business that is written for plant lovers who may not have formal horticultural or business training, but who do have a fair amount of common sense and are willing to get their hands (and feet!) dirty learning. The author certainly approves of formal education, recommending that prospective designers take courses, but she knows firsthand that hands-on experience gained through internships, volunteer work, and garden shows, as well as time spent with gardening books and magazines can be even more valuable than coursework. Indeed, fifteen out of twenty chapters focus on day-to-day operations, including best gardening practices, rather than on estimating costs, hiring staff, and other money-related aspects of the business. To its credit, this book has a comprehensive index, with topics ranging from accent plants to Rocky Mountain spotted fever to zone creep. Albrecht Howard offers a wealth of knowledge gained from real-world experience, along with basic guidelines to help ensure the fledgling business does well financially. The underlying message is one most readers will want to hear: if a new designer can perfect skills in garden design, plant care, and customer relations, the money is secondary, and it will come.

Reviewed by librarian Laura Blumhagen

Season: All Season
Date: 2010-06-05
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketHow to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers by Arden Bucklin-Sporer and Rachel Kathleen Pringle, Timber Press, 2010

The authors, who are members of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance, recognize a fact that is becoming clear in schools across the country: if we are to have school gardens in this era of tightening budgets, increased academic testing and expanding class sizes, parents must step up and offer their time and energy to establish and maintain them. My own personal experience with this process as a volunteer in the garden at my neighborhood elementary school indicates that while a few parents at each school might have the necessary time and energy to devote to this, it is rare to find anyone at all with the practical knowledge, patience and understanding that are necessary to make such a garden flourish. That's why this book is so important and useful. Not only does it empower parents and teachers to get something growing, it educates them about the planning, funding, building, maintenance, use, and enjoyment of such a garden. Valuable topics include dealing with vandalism, training students in basic garden tasks, preparing for garden lessons, scheduling class activities in the garden, and planning for summer watering. This book is a must-have for any gardening library.

Reviewed by librarian Laura Blumhagen

Season: All Season
Date: 2010-06-05
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketGarlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science by Eric Block, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK 2010

The genus Allium covers onions, garlic, leeks, chives and others. Their pungent odor comes from sulfur compounds they contain. Dr. Eric Block is a professor at New York State University at Albany, and has spent over 35 years studying the chemistry of alliums. His book covers an enormous range of information on the genus Allium. The "Lore" portions are fascinating, with references to archaeology, literature, painting, folk medicine, cultivation, and more. The "Science: parts are - well - scientific. For those who would like to explore the phytochemistry of alliums and its sulfur components, the long chapter on these topics is comprehensive.

For the rest of us, browsing the other chapters one can discover a 1600-1700 BCE recipe for braised turnips containing onions, turnips, and garlic and leek juice. Allium references in literature range from the Bible to Shakespeare to Rudyard Kipling. There is a whole chapter on folk medicine, both its uses and some cautions, such as this one: alliums including onion, garlic, leeks and chives are toxic to cats, dogs and monkeys.

For further information see: Dr. Eric Block's page on NYU Albany site and Harold McGee's article in the New York Times June 10, 2010

Reviewed by former Miller Librarian Lyn Sauter

Season: All Season
Date: 2010-10-22
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketBackyard Bounty by Linda Gilkeson (New Society Publishers, 2011)

Amidst the bumper crop of new food-gardening titles, Backyard Bounty : The Complete Guide to Year-Round Organic Gardening in the Pacific Northwest by Salt Spring Island, B.C. resident Linda Gilkeson stands apart. I put three recent edible plant titles by Northwest authors to the test by trying to find answers to commonly asked questions in them. Whether you are a beginning gardener or an experienced (or jaded!) old hand, this book will neither insult your intelligence nor blind you in a blizzard of technicalities. If you want to know about soil in raised beds, what to grow over the winter, or how to protect your grapes from predacious raccoons, this is the place. Though it lacks photos of primped and prinked up fruit and veggie glamour, the information is well-organized and clearly presented. I learned enough from reading it that I may just have to own a copy.

Reviewed by Plant Answer Line librarian Rebecca Alexander

Season: All Season
Date: 2011-04-30
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketBug Zoo: How to Capture, Keep, and Care for Creepy Crawlies by Nick Baker (DK Publishing, 2010)

Does someone you know want an earwiggery? How about a wormery or a dragonfly den? If you know a child who loves bugs, this illustrated handbook of bug habitats will teach him or her how to capture, observe, and learn from these tiny animals respectfully, with an understanding of their delicate biology.

Reviewed by librarian Laura Blumhagen

Season: All Season
Date: 2011-05-20
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketRadical Gardening by George McKay (Frances Lincoln Publishers, 2011)

"The law condemns the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But lets the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose."

-Anonymous Victorian author, 1854

This epigraph opens the first chapter ("The Garden in the [City] Machine") in George McKay's Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism & Rebellion in the Garden, and refers to the conflict between between affluent private landowners and poor villagers over access to open space which was once shared by all. Don't be put off by the crude cover art: McKay offers thoughtful discussion based on his extensive research into the role of public and community gardens, the politics of the organic movement and its offshoots (biodynamics and permaculture), gardens of peace and war, and the many ways in which gardens and open space have figured into politics, society, and culture. McKay enjoys wordplay (remember that 'radical' is rooted!), coining the term 'horticounterculture' to describe gardening-related movements which represent activism and resistance, as well as utopian (or dystopian) visions.

Of local note: McKay cites Professor Linda Chalker-Scott's debunking the pseudo-scientific underpinnings of biodynamics (a philosophy of agriculture developed by Rudolf Steiner, whose views held some appeal for National Socialists). Seattle is also noted briefly in a list of cities with an active community garden movement.

Reviewed by Plant Answer Line librarian Rebecca Alexander

Season: All Season
Date: 2011-06-10
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketUrban Agriculture by David Tracey. New Society Publishers, 2011

Though I personally am cheered by the sight of a P-Patch, a front garden, or a tiny apartment balcony resplendent with edible plants, there is still resistance to seeing raised beds replete with tomatoes and lettuce overtake a lawn or other underutilized space. Activist and arborist David Tracey's Urban Agriculture: Ideas and Designs for the New Food Revolution opens with an account of conflict over creating a community garden in his native Vancouver, B.C. Despite this negative note, the book is an antidote to despair. Tracey's informal and humorous style diminishes the sense of helplessness we feel in the face of corporate control over our food supply, and its attendant environmental devastation and cost to human health. Tracey does not provide detailed directions on how to grow various vegetables from seed, or how to make your own compost; his purpose is to inspire and empower the reader to begin or continue the worthwhile work of growing food (as opposed to "fuud," the term he coins for the products of Big Ag). You may not think you are engaged in agricultural pursuits but by the author's definition, anyone who grows edible plants is a farmer. The book is explicitly organized from the smallest to largest scale of edible cultivation (sprouts on the kitchen counter to full-scale farming). There are some unusual inclusions here, such as sections on aquaponics (in case you want to grow fish and greens together!) and school farms, the self-sufficiency model of Cuba's urban farming project, and a checklist of questions to ask politicians before the next election (ask where she or he stands on the use of public space to grow food by raising the concept of usufruct, the legal right to use and enjoy the fruits or profits of something belonging to another). There are numerous quotable lines in this book, such as: "It takes food to grow a village," and "The seed knows what to do." The library also has his previous book, Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto.

Reviewed by Plant Answer Line librarian Rebecca Alexander

Season: All Season
Date: 2011-07-26
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

bookPatio Produce by Paul Peacock

As a first time vegetable gardener, I was looking for a resource for planting and growing vegetables from a small space: my deck. This handy book, Patio Produce: How to Cultivate a Lot of Home-Grown Vegetables from the Smallest Possible Space by Paul Peacock really helped me start my garden. It simply showed me how to make the most out of my pots and how to plan for a reasonable crop yield. I especially enjoyed the chapters on how to grow vegetables on the patio. The author has an A-Z plant list and inside there are detailed step-by-step instructions on how to grow on the patio, including an "at a glance" table that contains helpful information on the plant's pot size, sowing dates, care, and harvest information. The short but thorough snippets on specific plants, such as raspberries, strawberries, potatoes, and tomatoes helped me understand how to plant and take care of my crops.

Reviewed by Jessica Moskowitz, library volunteer

In contrast, the book Vertical Vegetables and Fruit: Creative Gardening Techniques for Growing Up in Small Spaces by Pacific Northwest author Rhonda Massingham Hart is a complete book about growing produce vertically. The book explores the possibilities of popular garden food crops that climb, ramble, and twine toward the sun. There are fun ideas inside, such as: "Climbing the Walls," "Using Unusual Containers," "Finding Room on Fences," "Crashing in Corners," and "Just Hanging Out." Not only is this a how-to book on growing upwards, but it is also a book of outdoor vegetable growing projects that make the most of materials, from traditional techniques to unusual tricks. Parts two and three of the book contain information on "Vertical Annual Vines" and "Fine Perennial Fruits." The book also contains a handy resource guide for gardeners including lots of helpful websites.

Season: All Season
Date: 2012-04-26
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews, Urban agriculture

Garden Tool:

book jacketAmerican Grown by Michelle Obama. Crown Publishers, 2012.

First Lady Michelle Obama's new book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America (Crown Publishers, 2012) has much to say about gardening as a learning process. A novice gardener, she doesn't hesitate to admit that not all of the Kitchen Garden efforts succeeded on the first try: there were raised berms that succumbed to foot traffic and were replaced with untreated wooden boxes, troubles with cutworms, and trials and tribulations with pumpkins. But her motivation to create a food garden on the South Lawn with the participation of numerous horticulturists, chefs, and schoolchildren, has resulted in a beautiful, productive example for every aspiring urban farmer (even someone without a staff of dozens or a large growing space!). For readers who want to cultivate a closer relationship to the source of the food we eat (either by growing our own or by supporting small farms), this book is a good starting point. The book, which opens with a brief history of gardens at the White House, is arranged by season, and includes plans, descriptions of techniques and hands-on growing experiences, and recipes. Various experts on the garden staff contribute parts of the text. Seattle makes two appearances in the section on "How Our Gardens Grow Stronger Communities," with a page on Picardo Farm P-Patch, and a historic photo of Pike Place Market. The book ends with a resource list and bibliography.

If you are curious about the source of initial hesitation/opposition to the first White House beehive ever, here's a hint: the beehive is sited not far from the basketball court…

Reviewed by Plant Answer Line librarian Rebecca Alexander

Season: All Season
Date: 2012-06-13
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketGossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland (Granta Books, 2013)

Why do forests capture our imagination? And why are so many fairytales, at least in the Northern European tradition, rooted in forests? Sara Maitland's Gossip from the Forest is a fascinating and freewheeling exploration of how people shape the natural world, which shapes the tales we tell, which in turn shape us.

Maitland opens with the original meaning of the word 'gossip' ("one who has contracted a spiritual relationship to another, or a familiar acquaintance or friend"). As a feminist writer, she is reclaiming a term she believes has been trivialized to dismiss the power of women's communication. (The American edition of the book has truncated the title to From the Forest, which is a shame.)

The chapters run from March through February, and in each Maitland visits a different forest in England or Scotland, and ends with a unique retelling of a familiar fairytale. There is much to ponder and to absorb. The descriptions of coppicing and pollarding were surprising to me, and I had to overcome my reflexive distaste for human interventions in the growth of forest trees. In a deciduous forest setting, these practices can be beneficial not only to humans (who need wood for fuel, building, and other uses) but to the trees as well. She notes that coppicing extends the lifespan of oaks, for example. Pollarding, which is done higher up on the tree, makes the thin branches accessible to humans but not to browsing deer and other mammals.

Another observation that intrigued me was the venerated position beech trees hold in British culture (see Richard Mabey's book Beechcombings, or the widespread use of beeches in private estates to "posh up the landscape," to quote the book) compared to the birch, which the author prefers for its aesthetic and useful qualities. Beech is thought of as native, but is widespread across Europe; in Britain it mainly grows in the southern half of the country. She recalls her father's saying that "tyranny is like a beech tree; it looks very fine but nothing grows under it."

This is a book with a wide reach. Maitland touches on the history of the powerful and the powerless as evidenced in policies like enclosure (ending public rights and access to land which was once held in common), and on the cultural and psychological underpinnings of tales in which common folk are skilled and wise while kings are fools and landed gentry are consumed by greed. Her walks through the forest evoke the mystery of the natural world and the stories we tell to understand our place in it. Adam Lee, Maitland's son (who took the photographs which accompany the text), provides a useful image which summarizes the essence of the book: fairytales, forests, and people are interdependent, like mycorrhizae and tree roots.

Reviewed by Plant Answer Line librarian Rebecca Alexander

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-03
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

book jacketThe Adorable Plot by Tessa Newcomb with Philip Vann (Sansom & Company, 2012)

Here in Seattle, we have our picturesque and productive P-Patches. In England, allotment gardens trace their roots to the policies of enclosure of open fields which had been held in common, and to industrialization and burgeoning urban populations. This fencing in and privatization began as early as the 14th century but was widespread through the 18th and 19th centuries, when allotments were offered as a small compensation to villagers and city dwellers who did not own private land.

Painter Tessa Newcomb's The Adorable Plot is an exuberant celebration of the beauty and bounty of the allotments in her native Suffolk coast. The first striking thing about her art is the sense of scale. Dried poppy heads, trellis-climbing beans, and giant artichokes dwarf the humans who tend these busy and productive plots. Newcomb's use of color and space is reminiscent of Stanley Spencer, but her style is looser and more dynamic. Although Newcomb's paintings and drawings are the focal point, the text also delights with humor and poetic description. Poppies which have shed their petals are "lovely green globes, ginger cartwheels at the top and secret openings ready to disperse their seeds." Of a couple observing the fruits of their labor: "They sat in the chairs overlooking the plot which swayed like the sea." Whether or not you have an adorable plot of your own, this book will inspire you to head out to a garden with your eyes open, and perhaps your favorite garden tool or paintbrush in hand.

Related titles:

Reviewed by Rebecca Alexander, Plant Answer Line librarian

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-19
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "The rhododendron landscapes in our modern gardens were first inspired by the sight of rhododendrons growing in the wild." So begins Mt. Vernon, Washington author Sonja Nelson in "Rhododendrons in the Landscape, " a book that brings both historical perspective and practical design to using these iconic plants in Pacific Northwest gardens.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Robert Henderson dedicates "Neighborhood Forager" to Euell Gibbons, "...who invented the genre that sustains me, literally and figuratively." This handbook for living from nature is based on the author's considerable experience harvesting and using the native and naturalized plants near his home in Rosedale, British Columbia.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Sprng 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "Fall is tough on the vocabulary of a garden writer. I don't think I have another riotous, spectacular, or gorgeous left..." But Ketzel Levine does find her unique voice in "Plant This!," an often whacky but insightful review of favorites from her Portland garden.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "Wetland Plants of Oregon & Washington" is a smart little guide perfect for taking into the field with its water resistant cover and handy size. Author B. Jennifer Guard's use of photographs, line drawings, plant and habitat descriptions, keys, and notes makes this a most effective book for plant identification.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: A who's who of experts collaborated on "Wild Lilies, Irises, and Grasses: Gardening with California Monocots." You ask, is nothing safe from invading Californians? Perhaps not, but many of these showy plants already have PNW residency. Our collection includes this title and others from the Golden State with relevancy for our part of the coast.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Des Kennedy shares from the heart in "This Rambling Affair: A Year in a Country Garden," set on Denman Island in British Columbia. He knows his audience. "Gardeners are like people who endlessly take self-help courses and seminars to try make things better. We are chronic improvers, not necessarily of ourselves, but certainly of our landscapes..."

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "Going Native: Making Use of New Zealand Plants" combines the expertise of several kiwi botanists, ecologists and horticulturists. Aimed at a New Zealand audience, it is still well worth a read by Cascadia gardeners, especially the more daring.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "From the first the Japanese garden -- whether in Kyoto or Kansas City -- has stood as a tangible antithesis to Western values." Working from that premise, Kendall H. Brown profiles "Japanese-Style Gardens of the Pacific West Coast" , including our own. The 20 gardens -- all open to the public -- are enticingly presented by Melba Levick's photographs.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: For an immersion course in Chinese gardens, look to native landscape architect and historian Chen Lifang and "The Garden Art of China." Expertly translated by botanist Yu Sianglin, this is one of the richest introductions -- filled with plans, sketches, design principles, and many, many examples -- to any art form imaginable.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: John A. and Carol L. Grant's "Garden Design Illustrated" is a historical gem. This husband and wife team is better known for "Trees and Shrubs for Pacific Northwest Gardens", first published in 1948 with help from the Arboretum Foundation. But their 1954 design book is perhaps more relevant today, teaching time-honored basics that haven't become outdated.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Spring 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Perennials: The Gardener's Reference
Drawing on over two hundred years of local experience, authors Susan Carter, Carrie Becker and Bob Lilly are best known for the magnificent Borders at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. This encyclopedia organizes that collective plant knowledge from A-Z in a well-structured format. But what makes this especially valuable are the signed introductions to each genus (including guests authors) and the notes and comments throughout -- all learned directly in the field. Of course it's a perfect fit for gardeners of the maritime Northwest, but the on-the-job commentaries make this book useful to gardeners in almost any temperate climate.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns
Wow! This may be the crown jewel of an excellent assembly of local books for this year. If you are not a fan of ferns, Sue Olsen's infectious but very informative style will convert you. The descriptions, photographs (all by the author), and cultural details are all top notch, and infused with that added extra insight only available from a writer who thoroughly knows her subject. While perhaps not for the beginning gardener, I believe this book is well within the reach of anyone who has seriously embraced the craft. If that describes you, this is a must for your home library.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

Garden Tool: Sunset Western Garden Book
Every new edition of the most venerable of west coast gardening publications is a treat, bigger and better than before. Since the last in 2001, there are 500 new entries, a cleaner layout, highlights by subject experts and updated climate zones (although western Washington looks unchanged). "Post cards" from each state -- short essays, Washington's is written by Ciscoe Morris -- warm up the introduction and give some personal perspective on the zone maps that follow.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: The Story of the Apple
The origin of this commonplace fruit has long been uncertain, but University of Washington Botanic Gardens (UWBG) Director David Mabberley and co-author Barrie Juniper find answers in this fascinating story. The authors use the expected DNA analysis and other traditional botanical tools of discovery, but also geology, climatology and a study of bears and horses to identify the first home (it wasn't Eden) of the sweet apple. But they don't stop there. They trace the process by which the apple has become a world-wide food crop, an iconic element in the culture of many peoples, and even a "determined, effective, subversive influence" that challenges the global agribusiness complex by its ability to easily new varieties, giving hope that even a small scale orchard or wild seedling could produce the next, outstanding variety.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Plants of Haida Gwaii
Haida Gwaii, know by many as the Queen Charlotte Islands, has a rich and distinctive history of using plants in all aspects of the life of the indigenous Haida people. Nancy Turner has completed a project of over 30 years to document these practices, which is present here in a very thorough, yet quite readable presentation. Organized using the indigenous taxonomic systems, the use of plants for food, medicine, technology, and ceremony is interwoven with narratives of traditional stories and beliefs, often told through the interaction between plants and animals. These are juxtaposed with current issues of conservation, dealing with invasive species to these fairly isolated islands, and the disappearance of a way of life.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Invasive Species in the Pacific Northwest
This collaboration of over 80 authors, most of them students at the University of Washington, is a field guide to the region's invasive species that includes not only the noxious weeds gardeners fear, but aquatic plants, animals, invertebrates and even diseases. Sarah Reichard, head of conservation for UWBG, is one of the three editors that managed the project. The inclusion of the domestic cat is sure to get your attention, but a thorough reading describes a complex ecological web that will influence the way we look at the world around, especially in our gardens. The whole discussion of what constitutes an invasive species is fascinating in itself. A special section on these issues as they pertain to the Haida Gwaii is nice companion reading to the previous book.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Restoring the Pacific Northwest
This book details our major ecosystems, how they've worked historically, how that work has been interrupted, and possible corrections. These systems are defined first by plant zones or geographical features, such as bunchgrass prairies or tidal wetlands, and then reexamined as large scale landscapes that cross zones, including urban natural areas and watersheds. This is not a field guide, and not a quick read (and not cheap!), but the more technical parts are brought to life by case studies from throughout the area. Invasive vegetation is given its own chapter, as is a study of ecological knowledge and restoration practices by indigenous peoples. Editors Dean Apostol and Marcia Sinclair present a good survey of this large and important topic.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Wild Orchids of the Pacific Northwest & Canadian Rockies
A field guide "to assist the user in identifying" the wild orchids throughout an expansion of our region that includes Alaska and western Alberta and Montana. Author Paul Martin Brown, of the University of Florida, has a series of similar titles covering all of North America except for the southwest; however he has clearly spent considerable time in our region. Appendices brim with reference materials, many trying to untangle the nomenclature of our orchids, but more romantic is the "Orchid Hunting" section with tips such as "watch for small, shaded cemeteries along the way." Essays such as "The Correct Name for the Northwestern Twayblade" add to this slightly eccentric but fun book.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: A Pattern Garden
Val Easton's warm and clear writing style is very familiar, but her subject matter in this book breaks new ground as she applies the architectural concepts of patterns, or putting "human instincts into words," to garden setting. Throughout she "helps us to understand why we feel comfortable in a space" and why, in other places, we don't. The patterns are not unfamiliar: Scale, Garden Rooms, Ornamentation, Containers, etc., but some associations may be new, such as grouping Patios, Sheds and Focal Points under destinations. This makes it important to read the book as a whole, even though you'll return to favorite sections again and again for specifics. A short review of favorite plants concludes the book, but these are just one more pattern in the larger design.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Ask Ciscoe
Ciscoe Morris writes like he talks, so you know this book will be fun. Less appreciated is his vast knowledge base that he has acquired from years of experience both as a professional and avid home gardener. That knowledge is presented in a Question (sometimes as funny as the answers) and Answer format, broadly organized into categories such as Flower Plants, Edible Plants, Garden and Lawn Care, etc. Good for the bedside table -- to foster ideas as you read as little or as much as you want, or use the excellent index to find a specific topic. There's much more here -- and its all experience based -- than first meets the eye.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Garden to Vase
Linda Beutler thinks every gardener should be a florist, at least for his or her own home. On this premise she has written this extensive primer addressing all aspects of filling your vases (or whatever) for any and all occasions. Or for no occasion, other than to better enjoy the bounty of your garden. And the tips are great, such as how to "rinse" your daffodils so they don't kill the tulips you add to their arrangement. The second half of the book is an A-Z listing the best cutting plants, including growing tips, harvesting tips, vase life, when (or when not) to use preservatives, and what parts of the plant -- seeds, flower, leaves, etc. -- can be used, either fresh or dried. All this is clearly illustrated with Allan Mandell's excellent photos.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Natural Insect, Weed & Disease Control
A Salt Spring Island, British Columbia entomologist, Linda Gilkeson is enthralled with the work of beneficial insects in the garden, especially in combating pests. This manual is based on her experience and is very specific to our region. She clearly gives her opinion on what works, and what doesn't. While the focus is on insects, weeds and diseases get their turn, too. Most of the information is available from other sources, but like many hands-on work, there's much valuable empirical knowledge. One suggestion caught my eye: planting alyssum amongst gladiolus to attract pirate bugs, who in turn will eliminate the thrips that devastate the glads. It's worth a try!

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Coastal Gardening in the Pacific Northwest
A coastal garden book, this written by a transplanted Pennsylvania Master Gardener, who took the training again in Oregon. Written to a very specific audience, a fact brought home by the second chapter: "Dune Gardening." Yes, this is for those with lots of sand in their soil. Carla Albright has designed this as a handbook, with many pages of worksheets for the reader to fill out based on experiences. The tips are very basic, too. "In my tool bucket I keep two trowels, a narrow one and a wide one. The narrow one is good for..." Following a review of native beach plants, there are suggestions for appropriate beach garden aesthetics, and an extensive list of shore tested vegetable varieties.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: The Bellevue Botanical Garden
The authors of this book were nurtured and informed by the well-known Northwest Perennial Alliance Borders at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. Here, Marty Wingate tells how the Borders are part of a much greater whole brought together by a diverse group of plant lovers. The detailed history is followed by descriptions in word and photo that highlight features and plants in each of the nine gardens, augmented with short profiles of key players. A Garden promotion, yes, but there's also some good history and enough about the individual plantings to take some ideas home, especially if this book accompanies your next visit to Bellevue.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Hortus Miscellaneous
Whimsy, science, puzzles, construction plans, trivia, lists, do-it-yourself instructions -- it's all here in this very hard to describe book. Lorene Edwards Forkner and the late Linda Plato have created a one-of-a-kind book that, like so many other books described in this column, travels well beyond the Pacific Northwest. Turning to a random page, one finds a list of suitable plans for a knot garden, followed by the comparative definitions of monoecious and dioecious, sports teams with horticultural themes (The Fighting Okra?!?), and instructions on how to lay a flagstone pathway. You get the idea.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2007 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Flora Celtica

If I could only have one book on Scottish plants, it would be "Flora Celtica: Plants and People in Scotland." While the main title suggests a comprehensive, taxonomic review of natives, authors William Milliken and Sam Bridgewater instead use ethnobotany as their framework to categorize plants by their impact on humans.

And there is quite a range to this impact. Besides the expected foods, traditional crafts and medicines, this book both looks to the past -- recounting much folklore and ceremony -- and to the future, exploring the role of plants as we grapple with climate change, restoration and sustainability of resources.

The genius is in the presentation -- turn to any page and find fascinating biographies, historical photos and drawings, even poetry and lyrics of traditional songs, all woven around a very readable text. But this is not just about history -- the photographs (many by author Milliken) clearly illustrate the landscape and people of today.

"We no longer fumigate our houses with juniper leaves...or tie rowan twigs onto our cows' tails to ward off the fairies. But we do still...decorate our homes with holly at Christmas and plant marram grass to hold back the sea. And, while some practices are being lost, others are being acquired..." This quote from the introduction captures the spirit of this large, complex, and thoroughly engaging book.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Winter 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Scottish Wild Plants
For something to fit in your suitcase when travelling to Scotland, consider "Scottish Wild Plants: Their History, Ecology and Conservation." Authors Philip Lusby and Jenny Wright skillfully weave into some 40 plant profiles description, habitat, ecological niche, associated plants and animals, natural history, and even something of the history of Scottish botany. This is good reading straight through, yet still useful as a reference work, although you'll want a pocket field guide, too -- there are several good ones in any Scottish bookstore. This book is more for setting the mood. For example, you'll learn that Primula scotica is one of the few endemic plants in Scotland and its survival is linked to rabbits, an introduced animal to Britain in Roman times. But the relationship isn't what you'd guess. The Scottish primrose actually thrives best where rabbits are plentiful, as they eat the plants that shade this tiny, post-glacial relic.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Winter 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: The Gardens of The National Trust for Scotland
How I wish "The Gardens of The National Trust for Scotland," by Francesca Greenoak had been available when I visited Scotland gardens, as nearly every garden on my short list was part of the Trust. I would have known before my visit that Inverewe is indeed a rhododendron haven with over 2,000 different types, and that the founder was known as "bigleaf" Osgood for his love of large-leaf rhodies. Greenoak is skilled at teasing out these life-giving facts for her garden descriptions. Of equal importance are the photographs of Brian Chapple. Much more than coffee table filler, his images tell a story, such as the rejuvenation of the massive and ancient yew hedges at Crathes Castle. I gasped at seeing stately walls of green cut back to bare stumps, but subsequent images show the gradual regrowth and restoration of these 300 years old masterpieces. The gardening staff knows their craft!

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Winter 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Private Gardens of Scotland
James Truscott states in the introduction to Private Gardens of Scotland his hope to transport the reader to "...a temporary withdrawal from humdrum everyday life into a cloistered world of scents and colours, where half-forgotten feelings of wonderment and awe can be rediscovered." An ambitious goal, but he succeeds by having one of the best pens for garden description I've ever read. The photographs of Hugh Palmer compliment the writing, but they are not the stars. This book is meant to be read -- even if you never visit the gardens, Truscott's nuance of detail and narrative style of "touring" will teach you much, especially about design, as is befitting for an author who is also a landscape architect. He's full of fun facts, too: Did you know that Mary Queen of Scots, the Crown Prince of Imperial Japan, and Margaret Thatcher have all planted trees at Scone Palace near Perth?

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Winter 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "4 Gardens in One," by Deni Bown is an excellent source for learning about the four sites of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. Written with passion and an eye for lively history -- Bown took the photographs, too -- in her details about the Younger Botanic Garden at Benmore, I learned the full truth of Rhododendron ponticum. "Even today one will encounter areas in the far west of the garden which are yet to be cleared; these are still ponticum territory and virtually impenetrable."

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Winter 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Children's books may lead to some interesting discoveries in adult literature. The story of Billy, the little botanist, grows up in "The Art and Science of William Bartram" by Judith Magee. Here the simple leaf-drawing boy is revealed as more than an intrepid explorer and skilled artist of nature.

Despite the title and the inclusion of nearly 70 of William's drawings, many of birds, fish, and reptiles in addition to plants, this is not primarily an art book. It is a wide-ranging narrative that places the Bartrams, in particular William, in the context of the science, philosophy, religion, culture, and politics of their time.

Excerpts from publications, journals, and correspondence are skillfully woven into a narrative that I found as engaging as the simple tale in "Flower Hunter." Extensive asides profile important associates, many which were themselves instrumental in the beginnings of the American scientific community.

Throughout Magee concludes that William Bartram was not fully appreciated in his own time and place. His astute concerns about the ecology (well before the term was coined) of the natural world, and his beliefs in the equality of the Native Americans, were views shared by very few others. She sees his influence not only in botany, zoology and ethnography, but also on the European poets of Romanticism at the turn of 19th century.

When studied today, the author concludes William is "often seen as a pioneer in the field of ecology, a radical rather than a conservative in his politics, nationalism and religion, and a Romantic rather than a man of the Enlightenment." It is also noteworthy that he spent a long retirement in his garden, as it "remained the single most important thing" in his later years.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Summer 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

"My father, John Bartram, is a botanist. He studies plants and trees. I help him with his work. My name is William, but everyone calls me Billy. Father calls me his 'little botanist.'"

Thus Deborah Kogan Ray begins her first person narrative of the life of William Bartram (1739-1823) in "The Flower Hunter," a book written for children that can be read with enjoyment by adults as well. Much has been written about this early American naturalist and artist -- and his equally famous botanist father, John Bartram (1699-1777) -- but none can match the charm of this 40-page book, which is richly illustrated by the author.

"The Flower Hunter" tells the story of a young boy who grows up on a farm near Philadelphia and early becomes fascinated by his father's love of plants and botanical exploration. Throughout his childhood, Billy's father leads him on field trips that range farther and farther away from the farm. Eventually their roles reverse, and the son becomes an explorer who returns home triumphantly to share his discoveries about the natural world with his aging father.

Kogan Ray places her straightforward account against a wider backdrop -- the struggles of an emerging nation and the hardships and thrills of travel through a landscape and time very different from today. New plants, animals and even peoples are waiting to be found, described and - unusual for scientific traditions of the time -- cherished in their natural state.

Why do the Bartrams remain important to us now? Together they discovered the Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha) in coastal Georgia in 1765; a short time later the tree became extinct in the wild. An example of this beautiful tree, that blooms in autumn while its foliage is turning bright red, can be found on the east edge of the Arboretum's Azalea Way, about 100 yards north of the Winter Garden.

While today's botanic gardens and arboreta would be duller places without the Franklin tree, the Bartrams left us far more than this one showstopper. Their farm became one of the first botanic gardens in the United States, and is open to the public. (see Bartram's Garden at www.bartramsgarden.org). And they were instrumental, along with their friend Benjamin Franklin and others, in developing an American tradition of studying the natural sciences.

Perhaps best, they both wrote detailed journals of their travels. William's "Travels," published in 1791, is still in print today and is credited by Kogan Ray with having "inspired Henry David Thoreau and Charles Darwin with its observations of the world of nature."

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Summer 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

"Emily Dickinson's Herbarium" is a full-size, facsimile of an album of pressed flowers, leaves, and other plant parts created in the 1840s when Dickinson was a student at Amherst Academy. There is no stated purpose or obvious order to this collection, which includes both native plants of western Massachusetts and specimens that could only come from a garden or conservatory. As a traditional herbarium the value is limited, as none of the important collection information (date, exact location, etc.) are recorded.

Over 400 specimens survive, some accurately labeled by the author using botanical guides of the day, others with descriptive if incorrect Latin binomials (for example, Petunia alba for a white petunia). Others have lost their labels. The Harvard University Herbaria staff has identified nearly all despite numerous challenges. A detailed catalog records all this detective work.

But the value of this book is not as a traditional herbarium. I see it as a piece of history, and of an early glimpse of the life of one of our country's most valued poets. And, if you've ever attempted your own collection of pressed plants, you will appreciate the considerable effort taken not only to produce this book, but also to preserve it for over 160 years.

Accompanying essays document the herbarium's conservation, the history of the family battles over Dickinson's legacy, and securing the Dickinson collection for Harvard. Best is the article by Richard B. Sewall, "Science and the Poet: Emily Dickinson's Herbarium and 'The Clue Divine,'" in which he begins, "Take Emily's Herbarium far enough, and you have her." Perhaps. In any case, he argues for the close connection she found between science and art -- an argument that could be equally well applied to William Bartram.

"Emily Dickinson's Herbarium," because of its size, cannot be checked out, but is available to all to study and view in the Miller Library.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Summer 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "The Wild Within" "The Wild Within" is a photo collection highlighting the wetlands -- with a special emphasis on the animals of the Washington Park Arboretum. It is a real page-turner, but pages that you'll return to and savor frequently with an even deeper appreciation of the value of our Arboretum.

Essays provide occasional breaks in the photographs and they are well worth reading. Notables Dale Chihully, Dan Evans, Peter Steinbrueck, William Ruckelshaus and others shed their public faces to give very personal accounts of the importance of the Arboretum.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "The Last Oasis," by Seattle Times photographer Tom Reese extends a bit beyond the Arboretum in its scope, including human subjects and their impact, some of it benign but much that's troubling. However the message is much the same -- these urban wetlands are a treasure that is critical to preserve.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

For gardeners, the most important new book of the year will be the "Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes." A trio of southwest Washington writers brings extensive experience in botany, propagating and growing native plants, and photography together in this very comprehensive and extensive book that will be a standard reference for many years to come.

A brief introduction lays the ground rules: only natives -- nothing naturalized since the arrival of "non-indigenous human explorers". Plants that are rare and nearly impossible to grow in cultivation are out, too. An example being the various lovely but sensitive slipper orchids.

There are some seeming exceptions to this last rule, such as Erythronium montanum, the stunning but notoriously difficult-to-cultivate avalanche lily seen at Hurricane Ridge. However, the authors note, it can be grown by gardeners who live at higher elevations.

The heart of the book is a listing of over 500 species that gives a basic description, cultivation requirements, native range and habitat, plus notes about related species, ethnobotany and selected varieties. Propagation tips are included, with a strong emphasis on conservation of plants in situ.

The excellent photographs make this a pretty good identification book, too, and will convince you to add more natives to your home garden, including ferns, shrubs, and trees, both broad leaf and conifers. The appendices include helpful lists of plants to meet various gardening needs (for shade, for wildflower meadows, for hummingbirds, etc.). This book is a must have!

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: For the serious student of native plants, "The Flora of Mount Adams, Washington" will be an important work. Considered to be the most diverse flora in the state, Mt. Adams hosts several, quite distinct habitats and over 800 distinct species of plants. As there are no photographs and only botanist-oriented descriptions and identifying keys, this is not for the casual seeker of wildflowers. Instead, look for co-author Susan McDougall's "The Wildflowers of Mount Adams, Washington."

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Excellent photographs are the outstanding quality of "Uncommon Beauty," a new field guide focused on an underexplored part of the Pacific Northwest -- southeastern British Columbia. Written by an enthusiastic outdoorsman and native of the area, Neil L. Jennings provides a very readable description of over 200 plants, many who have ranges that extend southward into eastern Washington.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Steve Whysall has been a regular garden writer for the Vancouver Sun for 15 years. "Best Plant Picks" selects trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, and ferns from his more recent columns and organizes them in a gardening calendar, including tips on monthly chores and seasonal highlights. While not a major departure for the author's earlier books, there are some interesting juxtapositions here. A good choice for a new gardener who is willing to experiment.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Based on his earlier, high-energy books, it is not hard to imagine Des Kennedy as the author of book entitled "The Passionate Gardener." With wicked humor and incredible insight to both gardens and gardeners, he warns of the seven deadly sins of gardening, and extols its ten commandments. Other chapters are more reflective, but he's always ready to see the irony and contradictions in how we conduct our favorite pursuit.

Kennedy also displays a knack for travel writing, making trips to Hawaii, Ireland, and New Zealand entertaining while packing in a lot of names and facts that would be handy for planning your own trip. This is the perfect reading companion for a winter's evening and between the laughs, you just might soak up some good, sound gardening counsel based the author's years of gardening in the British Columbia Gulf Islands.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-07-24
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Straddling the US/Canadian border are the publications of Lone Pine, with authors from both sides. Three recent titles -- "Water Garden Plants" , "Container Gardening," and "Herb Gardening" -- are each addressed to Washington and Oregon but certainly are applicable further north, too. These are very useful titles for beginners, with the Lone Pine trademark water-resistant covers and easy, travel guide style presentation. Stock up for the new gardeners you know.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

One of the most unique new additions to the Elisabeth C. Miller Library collections is "Holden Village Historic Iris," the accounting of the surviving garden iris from the village of a mining camp that operated near the upper end of Lake Chelan from 1937 - 1957. Now established at a nearby Lutheran ministry known as Holden Village, these irises are a living history. Grown by the wives of the miners, many survived untended for more than 40 years in abandoned gardens.

Newer varieties were added after the village was established in the early 1960's, but like the older varieties, the "real" names are mostly unknown. Instead, authors Roxanne Grinstad and Larry Howard (the latter a garden volunteer at the Center for Urban Horticulture) share the local names that reflect the flowers' place in the community, evocative of both the present day and the history of the area.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Arthur Lee Jacobson's "Wild Plants of Greater Seattle" was received with great excitement when published by the author in 2001. In the second edition, the author has added 15 new plants to the illustrated field guide, plus more than 100 to the annotated checklist, and corrected or updated much of the nomenclature throughout.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: An important contributor to our Pacific Northwest literature has been Steve Solomon, now with his 6th edition of "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades." Each edition reflects the author's on-going learning in his craft, the major change in this edition concerns the cultivation of asparagus. He now advocates growing these from seed, rather than starting with root crowns.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Ann Lovejoy has updated her popular 2004 "Handbook of Northwest Gardening," with a new appendix entitled "What's New in Sustainable Gardening." Here she discusses rain gardens (that capture as much of naturally occurring water as possible), dry gardens (plantings that survive and even thrive with no supplemental watering once established), and the importance of bees and their current peril -- and ways that gardeners can help their cause. All good additions.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2008 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

John Charles Olmsted made numerous visits to the Pacific Northwest from 1903-1911. This nephew of Frederick Law Olmsted was himself a highly regarded landscape architect and noted for his attention to fine detail. The chronicle of his many projects in the region is written with this same, careful attention to detail by Joan Hockaday in "Greenscapes: Olmsted's Pacific Northwest."

Olmsted was a prolific writer, both in his professional records and in his correspondence (5,000 private letters survive), especially his daily letters to his wife Sophia and their daughters at home in Brookline, Massachusetts. Hockaday uses this wealth of sources to create a book that works on several levels: as a history of a important time in the development of our region, as a biography of a skilled landscape architect working in the shadow of his more famous uncle, and as a glimpse of a by-gone era through garden design.

While his work took him from Vancouver Island to the University of Idaho and south to Corvallis, much the book's focus is on Seattle, where he spent some 300 days during those nine years. Hockaday convincingly argues that Olmsted is responsible for much of what now defines the city, especially with the park system, Lake Washington Boulevard, the University of Washington campus (including Rainier Vista), and many private residences.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2009 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Portlander nurseryman Sean Hogan addresses a neglected part of the garden palette in "Trees for All Seasons: Broadleaved Evergreens for Temperate Climates". And he does it with great enthusiasm; being quite candid that one of his goals is increased planting of these excellent but underused plants.

First, he defines his scope. Conifers, or monocots such as palms, are not included. He's also strict about evergreen, subjects must "...keep their leaves year-round, or nearly so, but also remain attractive while doing so." Icons with each entry give size and shape, and emphasize these are trees, not shrubs (he's saving those for his next book).

The typical A-Z encyclopedia -- with some bunching of closely related genera -- is written for horticulturists (not botanists!) in temperate zones, and gives considerable gradation to the cold-hardiness and other exacting, cultural needs. For example, I learned that a favorite tree of mine from trips to the southwest, the Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora) would "...experience imperceptibly slow growth, or even lose ground..." in my Seattle garden without heroic efforts to match its preferred "swamp-cooler" climate.

Always the nurseryman, Hogan gives detailed notes about propagation and the habits of young nursery stock, always written in an easy to understand manner. Need to propagate your olive? Historically this was done by "chopping the heavily burled bases into pieces, pulling chunks out of the ground, then dragging them to the next area where, eventually, an olive tree would grow." He goes on to say that with less effort similar results can be obtained from well-ripened cuttings with a high...ish level of hormone...along with a steep wound."

This book will certainly enhance your appreciation of the Arboretum's collection of broadleaved evergreens.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2009 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

Lorene Edwards Forkner tackled a huge task. She took the 900 plus pages of the late Carla Emery's "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" and distilled out of this sometimes wandering magnum opus (in 10 editions over 35 years) the essentials of vegetable gardening.

The resulting "Growing Your Own Vegetables" is a well organized and very readable work (at a comparatively slim 179 pages) that still captures the enthusiasm and down-to-earth charm of the original. While the authors both have Pacific Northwest roots, this book is written for a general audience, and so the section on okra is best skipped in planning your Seattle P-patch.

That said, there are still lots of useful and practical cultural tips. But I found it most charming in the somewhat quirky side boxes, such as that on Draft Horses and Power Tools: "Pat the animal and let it know you appreciate it after a good hard pull."

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2009 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Briefly, gardeners should read "The Weather of the Pacific Northwest" by Cliff Mass, as the local weather is our constant companion. While this doesn't specifically address the concerns of gardeners, it will help you make sense of forecasts and appreciate the unpredictability of our weather.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2009 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: In the "Timber Press Guide to Gardening in the Pacific Northwest," Carol and Norman Hall give considerable detail and nuance specific to weather, climate, and other local factors impacting gardens west of the Cascades.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2009 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: "The Northwest Green Home Primer" is a helpful book for planning your garden. While the emphasis is on the home, a chapter entitled "Site Choices" has good advice for the surrounding landscaping, especially how and where to plant trees, and briefly addresses other green practices such as rain gardens to maximize the use of runoff.

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2009 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: As a resident of Montreal, Linda Rutenberg does not qualify as a Pacific Northwest author, but the collection of her photographs in the 2007 publication "The Garden at Night: Private Views of Public Eden" includes PNW subjects. The Washington Park Arboretum and the Butchart Gardens are both featured, as are several other west coast gardens. The Italian Garden at Butchart is particularly enchanting at night, and one simply must experience Azalea Way -- after dark!

Reviewed by Curator of Horticultural Literature, Brian Thompson. Excerpted from the Fall 2009 Arboretum Bulletin.

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: For an encyclopedic approach to vegetable gardening, consider the "Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles." Like most Sunset books, this encompasses the entire west in its scope, so ignore the entry on macadamia nuts, but with the fine tuning that the Sunset zones allow, you can zero in on what will grow for you, including fruits, nuts, berries, and herbs.

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

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool:

I have long enjoyed the folksy but information packed annual catalogs from Gossler Farms Nursery in Springfield, Oregon. It is a great pleasure to now have the first book by the family (mom Marjory and sons Roger and Eric Gossler), "The Gossler Guide to the Best Hardy Shrubs." Here the very practical, learned-by-experience descriptions of the catalog are expanded to 350 of their favorites, and all would make a good choice for local gardens.

The highlight of the introductory chapters is "How Not to Kill Your Plants" with lots of advice on how to select, buy, plant, and nurture your new shrubby children. "Consider it an open adoption: you want to know about the birth parents, what neighborhood the plant came from, whether drugs were involved, and so on." This same professional insiders advice continues in the A-Z listings, where I learned that a favorite of mine, Enkianthus perulatus, is rarely found in nurseries "...because it grows too slowly to be profitable."

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

Season: All Season
Date: 2013-08-14
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


Keywords: Reviews

Garden Tool: Cottonwood and the River of Time by Reinhard 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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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, 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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


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
Link to this record (permalink)


1   |   2      »      

 

Didn't find an answer to your question? Ask us directly!

Browse keywords or Search Again:

We are continually adding new questions, so be sure to keep coming back.

July 27 2016 15:17:37