We usually review books about California native plants on this blog, and we actually have quite a nice collection of book reviews. But I'm making an exception for this book, which I've found insightful, inspiring, and a must for any serious gardener's library.
(Disclaimer: I personally know both authors. Susan Morrison has the popular website Blue Planet Gardening and a fun and irreverent blog. Rebecca Sweet lives practically down the street from here, she writes at Gossip in the Garden and in different gardening and horticulture magazine and has the most amazing jewel of a garden. But I would have just skipped the review of their book if I didn't like it. Honest.)
I was already won over when I read the introductory section about invasive plants. It's that kind of consideration for both the beauty of the garden and the sustainability of the design choices that impressed me very much in this book (and the sustainability aspect is often sadly lacking in garden books).
But as I got into the book I became completely enchanted by the photos (amazing photos), the practical advice, and the design spotlight section. I also liked the organization, which split the book into these topics:
- Arbors and trellises
- Skinny spaces
- Garden secrets
- Urban gardens
- Living walls
- Plant picks
- Design Spotlights -- Then & Now
The section about green walls surprised me by being very realistic. The authors set expectations, and make it clear that a green wall is a work in progress and will require more frequent replanting than a horizontal planting bed. Their discussion of different choices still made it sound tempting, but I realized this is not a project to rush into.
Now, where are the natives? you might ask. To which I have to reply that a book meant for the whole country or even the whole continent and beyond, does well not to recommend specific "native" plants. We know that California poppies and seep monkey flower are weeds in other countries, while some plants from other countries are weeds here (pampas grass, anyone?). So I'm happy the book sticks to showing us amazing vines, plants with upright growth habits, and other well-behaved garden plants. Did I mention they have great photos?