January 17, 2009

Book Reviews: Winter Reading

Winter allows more time for reading than the rest of the year, and I have been checking out books from the library and purchasing some as well.  The stack I'm reading right now includes: Landscaping with Herbs by James Adams, Fragrant Gardens: How to Select and Make the Most of Scented Flowers and Leaves by H. Peter Loewer, An American Cutting Garden: A Primer For Growing Cut Flowers Where Summers Are Hot And Winters Are Cold by Suzanne McIntire, the Pocket Guide to Herbal Medicine by Karla Kraft & Christopher Hobbs, and High and Dry, Gardening with Cold-Hardy Dryland Plants by Robert Nold.

The herbal medicine book is great: serious, thorough, very detailed, well documented.  Not a coffee-table book, nothing airy-fairy, and definitely a keeper for the home research library. Interesting too to have a window into the differences in views of herbal medicine in the US and Germany.

An American Cutting Garden doesn't have pictures, a pity, and is not terriffically up to date on varieties, but it has good growing information, nice harvest lists, and personal observations.  If you are looking for conditioning tips, there aren't too many here.  But any book that recognizes the need for different information for northern gardeners is a plus.

Lower's book is thin, a pocket guide really though it is too large to carry conveniently.  Luscious photos (in a higher key than reality supports; I'v never seen Hesperis that color!), some less common plants included, the list of roses is brief, but that's more me than him!

High and Dry, Nold's book on alpine plants is another book with the author's opinions on view, and he has a great "in person" writing style. Alpines are a growing passion of mine, and this book makes me want to go on a market-research spree. Very detailed observations from a lifetime of gardening, and photos you want to chew on.  While his definition of high and dry is a bit different from mine (in our mountains, things he says won't make it in dry areas, do---but our "dry" is far wetter than Colorado's, I guess).  This I have from the library but will have to get.  (I recommend his book Penstemons too.)

I will update this post when I have read some more!