Book Review: The East Bay MUD Book

I moved into my current house just a few years ago, and my most favorite book while I made the first forays into garden planning was "Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates of the San Francisco Bay Region". While not exclusively a book about California Natives, this book is wonderfully comprehensive and a great reference with a large picture of each plant it discusses. Photographs are by Saxon Holt, who also blogs at one of my favorite blogs, Gardening Gone Wild.
The book starts with some beautiful, inviting pictures, in fact, there are pictures everywhere, even behind the Table of Contents. The Acknowledgements seem like an excuse for a full-page spread of Nassella Tenuissima spilling down slope. Then comes "Gardening Where You Are", a chapter about Meditarranean Climate, the plant communities of the Bay region (more gorgeous photos) and the seasons of California. Rainy season, wildflower season, dry season. Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Chapter 2 has notes (and photos) on garden design, with discussions of low-water plantings and designing for winter wet. And all those of us who've had salvias perish for lack of oxygen while sitting in wet clay should probably read that section twice. While sitting in wet clay.
Chapter 3 is a plant reference. The chapter is organized alphabetically and includes trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals. For each plant, you can see the preferred lighting conditions, water requirements, and whether the plant is a native. And this book does not list collector natives, it lists the natives that survive some neglect. Each plant is discussed in some detail, and there's a photo of each, often together with other plants of the same plant community. If multiple species and cultivars are well suited for the Bay area, they're listed in sequence (and sometimes, for example for ceanothus or Iris, there are several photos).
Plants at a Glance at the end of the chapter has lots of lists, for example, a list of all trees, all shrubs, etc. And Plants for Special Places lists of plants for hot sites, dryish shade (quite a list, actually!) and other "interesting" locations.
The final chapter discusses the Landscape over Time and looks at soil, ecosystems, and related topics, with helpful illustrations. A long list of resource includes display gardens and their web sites and makes you want to jump up, drop the book, and either start digging or go to one of those gardens to see what's going on.
P.S. After reading "What's that You Say, We Can Get Our Information From Our Computers" on
Gardenrant today, I feel a little foolish writing about a book... But some days, there's nothing better than leafing through the pages while listening to the birds, or sitting with a nice cup of tea and dreaming of the wildflower season.


Jan said…
I couldn't agree more that sitting down w/ a book or magazine is important to our life in general. We all spend so much time in the dirt, or at the keyboard:)
Anonymous said…
I love this book! Next to Sunset Western Garden, it is the one I use most and in fact, the binding is falling apart so will probably have to get a new one.

The only problem is the photography is so beautiful, I feel I sometimes have to tell clients their version won't be quite so perfect so they aren't disappointed by the actual appearance of a dead leaf or misshapen branch!