The Book of Little Hostas

by Kathy Guest Shadrack and Michael Shadrack

208 pages
Timber Press, November 2010
List price: $27.95

When I'm asked to review a book about a topic I love, this can be either good or bad (for the author). Good, because I'm already looking forward to reading it. And bad, because I have such high expectations and sometimes they aren't met. No worries here. It's all good.

Diminutive hostas are rising stars in the perennial world and it's not hard to see why. As presented by the husband and wife team of Kathy and Michael Shadrack in The Book of Little Hostas, the case for them is overwhelming. The smaller varieties are versatile, working in the ground, in raised beds, in containers and hanging pots.They're perfect for borders and fairy gardens. As specimen plants, they hold their own.

Little Hostas profiles 200 of the little guys, including many newer cultivars, with enchanting photographs (all by the authors) depicting their characteristics. The bulk of the book gives suggestions for their use. Included is a section on companion plants that show them off and another details their care. Additional resources are listed for where to find smaller hostas to both view and buy, as well as a list of further reading opportunities.

If you love hostas already, you'll love this book. If you didn't love them before, you'll love this book and little hostas.

Kathy Guest Shadrack has gardened passionately in Western New York for over 25 years and has maintained collections of hostas, irises, and daylilies. A former secretary of the American Iris Society, she is currently the secretary of the American Hosta Society.This is Kathy's first book.

Michael Shadrack is a photographer with more than six thousand hosta images in his library. He is an active member of the British Hosta and Hemerocallis Society and the American Hosta Society, and has assumed leadership roles in both organizations. Michael regularly lectures on hostas in North America and Europe, and is an avid hybridizer as well.

He is the author of two previous books: Timber Press Pocket Guide to Hostas and The New Encyclopedia of Hostas.

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.

Five Favorite Books from 2010 - Win One!

I've looked at a lot of gardening books that debuted in 2010 and there are many I haven't yet seen, but as we wrap up the year, here are five of my favorites, in no particular order. If you need a last-minute gift for a gardener, any one of these publications will do quite nicely.

  • Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin
    I can't say enough nice things about this book. I turn to it again and again for inspiration and even for help in identifying a succulent now and then. Everything about this book is first class.
    Complete review

  • Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars by Sharon Lovejoy
    I don't think there exists another book that is as much fun for both kids and grandparents than this. The artwork by Lovejoy is charming and her ideas will keep "the grands" entertained for a long time. Parents will find it just as useful.
    Complete review

  • Grocery Gardening by Jean Ann Van Krevelen with Amanda Thomsen, Robin Ripley and Teresa O'Connor
    The layout of this book is so visually pleasing and well-organized, it's a pure joy to read, even if you never grow a single tomato. Informational and practical, taking you from seed to table, this is the whole package.
    Complete review

Luckily for you, I was sent two copies of Succulent Container Gardens. I will be giving the extra copy away to one of my readers. To be entered, simply leave a comment here, telling me what your all-time favorite gardening book is and why you like it so much.

If you tweet about the contest, I'll enter your name twice. Simply copy the following and post it on Twitter:
Enter to win Succulent Container Gardens by @DebraLeeBaldwin at @GardeningBTBook . Ends midnight EST Dec 13.
The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada and will end at midnight, EST on Monday, December 13, 2010. Book will be sent by me, by media mail, so it may not arrive before Christmas. Thanks to Timber Press for providing this book.

Growing tasty tropical plants*

Growing tasty tropical plants* 
(like lemons, limes, citrons, grapefruit, kumquats, sunquats, tahitian oranges, barbados cherries, figs, guavas, dragon fruit, miracle berries, olives, passion fruit, coffee, chocolate, tea, black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, and more...)
*in any home, anywhere
by Laurelynn G. Martin and Byron E. Martin

160 pages
Storey Publishing, 2010
List price: $18.95

When doing a review of a how-to book, I try to imagine that whatever the book is showing me how to do is entirely new to me. That was easy in this case, because I've never grown a single edible tropical plant in my life. Then I read the basic instructions on how to do whatever it is they're explaining and see if any crucial details are left out.

This book is ironically timely for me, having purchased a Meyer lemon tree (calling it a tree is a stretch) just three days before receiving my review copy in the mail. Meyer lemon is just one of the 47 plants profiled and after reading the information presented, I feel confident that I will be successful in growing it.

Each plant's profile displays one or more clear photos of the plant with its fruit and well-organized information necessary to grow it successfully: plant particulars, growing conditions, care, and potential problems. A section at the back of the book called "Plant Care" goes into details  that are common to nearly all tropical fruiting plants, including propagating, pruning, pest and disease control, and troubleshooting. Sources for the plants themselves are also listed.

Laurie and Byron are the owners of the renowned Logee's Tropical Plants in Danielson, CT - a business that has been in the Logee-Martin family since 1892. If anyone knows their tropicals, it's these two, and once again, they share their expertise with the rest of us.

Laurelynn Martin is vice-president and co-owner of Logee’s Greenhouses, and has worked there since 1991. She is the author of Logee’s Spectacular Container Plants, which won the Independent Publisher’s Book Award in 2005, and she has received the MGA Green Thumb Award for Plant Photography and Copy in both 2005 and 2008. She lives in Brooklyn, Connecticut.

Byron Martin is the president and co-owner of Logee’s Greenhouses, and is a renowned expert on growing tropical container plants. He is a featured speaker at national seminars on growing tropical plants and is regularly featured on television’s “Martha Stewart Live.” He is the author of Logee’s Spectacular Container Plants, which won a 2001 Independent Publisher’s Award for Best in Home and Garden, and the Mailorder Gardener’s Association Green Thumb Award in both 2005 and 2009 for photography and copy for that book. He lives in Danielson, Connecticut.

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.