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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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December 12 2014 11:33:49