September 18, 2016

More Great Gardening Books

by Toni Leland

Gardening season might be just about over for a lot of us, but when winter comes, what could be better than sitting down with a great garden resource, paper and pen, and dreams for next year? Here are two books I highly recommend.

The Rooftop Growing Guide
Author: Annie Novak

Though the title might be uninteresting to the average gardener who isn’t planning a rooftop garden, this wonderful book is filled with information that is invaluable to anyone who wants to be successful in gardening.

Of special interest to this reviewer was the voluminous information on container gardening. Rooftops lend themselves to plants grown in containers rather than in a layer of soil, so the author has thoroughly covered the subject.

Once one starts reading, this is a hard one to set aside. For those interested in transforming a city rooftop into a viable, living environment, the book covers how to assess your proposed rooftop, the what and why of rooftop soil, starting seeds, using flowers, herbs, shrubs, and trees in such a setting, as well as dealing with problems like wind and rain or snow, and critter damage.

The book is interspersed with success stories for commercial rooftop gardens, many of them grown and managed by restaurants where the produce is used fresh on a daily basis. The appendix and resource lists at the end make this a book to have for just about anyone.

Disclaimer: I received this book for review, but if I’d had a glance through it at a bookstore, I would buy it!

The Weather Resilient Garden
Author:   Charles W. G. Smith

Instead of bemoaning the bad things that can happen to our gardens, we can be proactive if we understand all the natural events that our planet bestows upon us. This excellent book is a defensive approach to planning and landscaping, keeping the weather in mind.

Anything you might need to know about planting a beautiful, but tough garden is contained in the 412 pages written by horticulturist, naturalist, editor, and educator Charles W. G. Smith. The first part of the book describes how to plan your weather-resilient garden, with regard to location, microclimates, soil, and other issues. The weather section specifically covers cold, ice & snow, salt, flood, drought, fire, hail, heat, humidity, lightning, and wind – and what you need to know ahead of time to keep your gardens safe.

The final section offers information on 100 weather-resilient plants, including perennials, shrubs, trees, vines, ornamental grasses, annuals, and lawns. More resources are available through the appendix, supplies and resources, further reading, USDA Hardiness Zone maps, botanic & common name index, and a general index.

I quite literally LOVE this book! 

August 4, 2016

Mushrooms of Northern California

by Toni Leland
mushrooms, unknown variety

I had the pleasure of receiving a review copy of Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast, a comprehensive guide to the fungi of coastal northern California, and all I can say is: I'm impressed! Beautiful book.

This amazing volume is a treasure for anyone interested in collecting or just knowing about the fungi of coastal northern California. The book is comprehensive and well-written, with excellent photographs of every entry. Extra information includes a general overview of mushrooms, their morphology and ecology, and a section on the trees of the coastal region - complete with photographs and descriptions.

Collecting and identification are covered extensively, and the book concludes with a glossary, list of additional reading material, bibliography, and complete index.

My only complaint – a big one – is the size of the type used. The entire book is printed in what looks like 6 point type. Very difficult to read for anyone without perfect eyesight.