Daffodils / Tulips For North American Garden

Daffodils for North American Gardens
Tulips for North American Gardens
by Brent and Becky Heath

144 pages / 144 pages
bright sky press, 2001
List price: $24.95 / $24.95

The next best thing to seeing tulips and daffodils come up in  your garden is leafing through the pages of companion volumes Daffodils For North American Gardens and Tulips For North American Gardens by bulb gurus, Brent and Becky Heath.

Each book is written using the same menu, which delivers a multi-course gourmet meal of the delicious world of daffodils and tulips. Starting off with botanical information and moving on to growing tips and cultivation, these whet the appetite for the main course.

Suggestions for which bulbs grow best in particular regions of North America and what to plant with them are provided.  Forcing and hybridizing are given their due as well as information about arranging and showing them.

And then comes dessert!  Page after page of each type of each bulb - with pictures - sent me running for paper and pencil to make my list of wants.  It probably doesn't help that it's the middle of winter and I'm longing to see daffodils and tulips in my own gardens, but the list gets unrealistically long and I head over to their online store to see if they have what I'm drooling over.

Yes, that's right, the authors of these books know whereof they speak when it comes to daffodils and tulips. They're the owners of Brent and Becky's Bulbs, the internationally known bulb farm in Gloucester, Virginia, where they have provided individuals and businesses with the best in bulbs for over 30 years.

Buy one or buy both - they're worthy reference books in any gardener's library.

*Books reviewed were purchased by the reviewer.

The Gardener's Color Palette

The Gardener's Color Palette: Paint Your Garden with 100 Extraordinary Flower Choices
by Tom Fischer

236 pages
Timber Press, February 15, 2010
List price:  $12.95

The title is intriguing, and while the cover idea is clever, there is something about it that doesn't actually draw me in.  If I were to see it in a bookstore, I'm not entirely sure I'd pick it up and have a look, and that would be a shame, because what is contained within its covers made me want to sit right down with it and read the whole thing in one sitting.

So I did.

The Gardener's Color Palette comes on the heels of Black Plants and is done in much the same format.  In this one, 100 plants are featured and are presented in color groups, ten to a group.  The photography is visually stunning, and if nothing else, inspires me to do some serious shutterbugging of my own flowers.

Each flower has its own two pages, one for its photo and the other to tell all about its character.  Basics listed are:
  • Latin name
  • Common name
  • Pronunciation of the Latin name
  • Plant type
  • Height and spread
  • Bloom time
  • USDA Hardiness Zone

If it's a North American native, that is noted as well.  Easy-to-understand symbols show light and moisture requirements.  In the descriptive paragraph that follows, growing advice is given and on occasion, Fischer offers suggestions as to where the plant may be sourced.

At $12.95, the 7-inch by 7-inch softcover book is priced right for providing inspiration for those gardeners that want eye-catchers in their flower beds.  Though touting that the plants are some of the best to be grown in a wide variety of climates, Fischer still succeeded in teasing me with several that gave me that bane of all gardeners - zone envy.

On the other hand, I'm already growing many of the plants in this book and as I read the information presented about them, I can personally vouch for the author's knowledge of his subject matter.  This is a delicious little book that arrives just in time for spring planning.

Tom Fischer is editor-in-chief of Timber Press. Before moving to Portland, Oregon, in 2004, he was the editor of Horticulture magazine in Boston, Massachusetts. His experiences as a bi-coastal gardener and his inexhaustible curiosity about plants have both shaped his new garden, which in 2008 was profiled in the Oregonian. A prolific writer as well as an editor, his articles have been featured in magazines such as Garden Design, Gardens Illustrated, and Martha Stewart Living.

The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard

Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard
by Sally Roth

304 pages
Rodale Books, 2002
List Price:  $18.95

If there's a better book out there than Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard on the subject in its title, I want to see it.  I can't imagine anything more complete or more attractively presented than this.

A list of the chapters really tells the story:

  • Butterflies and Hummingbirds: The Basics
  • Flowers and Feeders for Nectar
  • The Lure of Water
  • Tempting Butterflies with Treats
  • The Sheltering Garden
  • The Next Generation
  • Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden Designs
  • Butterfly and Hummingbird Behavior
  • A Gallery of Hummingbirds
  • A Gallery of Butterflies

There are photographs, illustrations, tables, resources, maps, and recommended readings.  This book contains so much useful and interesting information that in my opinion, you shouldn't bother with checking it out of the library.  You should buy a copy of your own.

Sally Roth, author of numerous birding, nature, and gardening titles, spends much of her time watching birds and enjoying nature across the country. She currently lives in New Harmony, Indiana.

Book reviewed was purchased by the reviewer.

The $64 Tomato

The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden
by William Alexander

304 pages
Algonquin Books, 2006
List Price: $13.95

I'd heard about this book long before I read it and all of what I'd heard was good. Then I read it and knew why.  There are many books written about the actual experiences of starting a garden for the first time, but few will have you smiling most of the way through it like The $64 Tomato.

Gardening has a way of sucking you in and making a liar out of you.  "Oh, I'm just going to grow a few things in this plot of dirt here..." you say, but before you know it, you're elbow deep in soil, compost, how-to books, and have spent your very last dime on that wonderful new garden tool.  How on earth does that happen?

Alexander shares his own personal obsession with gardening and all he encounters and learns along the way. Undeterred in his quest for an organic garden, he finds the deer and weeds and neighbors to be just a few things that seemingly conspire against him. Nevertheless, he persists in finding a way to have the garden he always wanted, if not quite in the way he imagined.

I dare any gardener to read it and then say you have no idea what he's talking about.

William Alexander is the author of the best-selling memoir, The $64 Tomato, and the forthcoming (April 2010) 52 Loaves: In Search of Truth, Meaning, and Really Good Toast, his hilarious and moving account of a year spent striving to bake the perfect loaf of bread.

He has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, and was a 2006 Quill Book Awards finalist. Alexander has been a frequent contributor the New York Times op-ed pages, where he has opined on such issues as the Christmas tree threatening his living room, Martha Stewart, and the difficulties of being organic.

When not gardening, baking, or writing, Bill keeps his day job as director of technology at a psychiatric research institution, where, after 28 years, he persists in the belief that he is a researcher, not a researchee.

The book reviewed was purchased by the reviewer.