Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens

Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens
200 Drought-Tolerant Choices for All Climates 
by Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden

248 pages
Timber Press, 2011
List price: $24.95

The Ogdens could not have known that the US would suffer one of the worst drought seasons in its history when they wrote Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens in 2011. Focusing on growing drought-tolerant plants isn’t new, but their book couldn’t be more timely or relevant to gardeners than it is right now.

No longer is water usage just a concern of those who live in arid climates. Water shortages are everywhere and in this book you’ll find plenty of suitable plants for varying conditions in zones 4 to 10. Growing details are highlighted for over 200 plants, with 400 more related companion plants listed, giving gardeners a plentiful palette from which to choose. Each of the 11 categories of plants has plant profiles that also suggest design ideas, helping you to incorporate them into your garden in an attractive way.

This is a practical book that is a culmination of over 30 years of horticultural and design experience. The Ogdens give straightforward advice with their multi-seasonal plant choices, making drought-tolerant gardening easier. I, for one, appreciate having this book to reference, after yet another summer of dragging garden hoses around the yard far too much.

Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden are garden designers and horticulturists who have experience with a wide range of climates, plants, and planting styles in both the United States and Europe. They have spoken at most major botanic gardens, public gardens, and arboreta in the United States.

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

All the Garden’s a Stage

All the Garden’s a Stage: Choosing the Best Performing Plants for a Sustainable Garden
by Jane C. Gates

144 pages
Schiffer, 2012
List price: $29.99

There are so many books available to beginning and veteran gardeners that give basic and intermediate information, it can be confusing to choose one that’s a right fit for you. All the Garden’s a Stage takes a clever approach to guiding your growing with sustainability in mind. If you think of your garden as a production, with you as its director, this book can be the script that helps you turn your yard into a thing of beauty.

Following Gates’ simple instructions, she takes the sometimes confusing mystery out of choosing plants that still leave you with free time for other pursuits. After overviews of the different types of plants and their basic needs, design principles are explained. Using this information, you can make informed choices while creating your landscape. The second half of the book consists of plant profiles, with identifying photos of each plant.

Perhaps this is a personal point, but I suspect others may feel the same: In the plant profiles section, no USDA Zones are listed. Gates explains that she didn’t include them in each plant’s description so as to not disappoint gardeners who think they will be successful at growing say, a Zone 5 plant in Zone 5. I would have preferred that she had provided the recommended USDA Zones for each plant, with a reminder to gardeners that just because a plant is listed as hardy for their zone doesn’t necessarily mean that will be the gardener’s actual experience. Now, if you want to know if a listed plant is generally hardy for your zone, you have to go look it up elsewhere.

Jane Gates is an award-winning landscape designer, a prolific garden columnist, a writer of stories, training programs and song lyrics and has shown her art in galleries all over the world. Her belief is that learning keeps us alive and being alive is a gift to be shared. She can be found at http://gardengates.info.

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