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Garden Books for Holiday Gifts
It is relatively easy to buy holiday gifts for the gardener. Garden books are at the top of any list. Here are a few of my favorites to consider for your gardener.
Greg Grant, currently an instructor at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX, is one of the outstanding horticulturalists in the South. Two of his books lead my list for 2004. The Southern Heirloom Garden co-authored with Dr. Bill Welch is both a good resource book and an interesting read. It describes the evolution of gardening as different waves of immigrants moved into the South. Each group had favorite plants and design preferences that were combined with the ideas that were already in place to produce a new blended Southern garden. In other cases the garden characteristics were preserved in relatively isolated communities across the region. In addition to the story of the evolution of the Southern garden The Southern Heirloom Garden offers plant lists and wonderful photos that will allow the gardener to resurrect his/her favorite ethnic garden. It retails for $29.95.
Home Landscaping: Texas by Greg Grant and Roger Holmes is a new book. The retail price is $19.95. This book fills a gap in the garden book inventory. Home Landscaping: Texas identifies problem areas in a typical landscape such as a shady side yard or a steep slope and offers a planting plan to address them.
South Texas is home to a large number of bird and butterfly species. With minor additions to our landscapes, including specific potted plants and a few feeders and water sources, a landscape can become alive with birds and butterflies. My favorite book for attracting birds to our landscapes is authored by Thomas Pope, Neil Odenwald and Charles Fryling Jr. Not surprisingly, it is titled Attracting Birds to Southern Gardens. The photos are excellent and the plant descriptions include many of the outstanding new entries on the plant market such as firespike and firebush that are uniquely Southern. The book retails for $24.95.
For information on attracting butterflies to the garden consider Butterfly Gardening for the South by Geyata Ajilvsgi for your gardener. The attractive book retails for $34.95. My favorite butterfly identification guide is Butterflies of North America authored by Jim Brock and Kenn Kaufman. This is the gift for your gardener if he/she keeps saying someday I am going to identify all those different butterflies that are visiting our garden. Butterflies of North America sells for around $15.
Scott Ogden is a well-known area horticulturalist, garden designer and author. He has two books that I think would be excellent gifts for a gardener wanting to graduate to the next level of the hobby. Gardening Success with Difficult Soils and Garden Bulbs for the South are master level discussions of the challenges of gardening in alkaline and other difficult soils. The books offer the species and selections of plants that perform despite the difficult conditions. These books are essential additions if your gardener wants to identify and grow plants no one else in the neighborhood has.
Antique roses are an important part of low water use gardening in the San Antonio area. Roses in the Southern Garden by Antique Rose Emporium owner G. Michael Shoup is a good resource with beautiful photos. The book sells for around $30. William Welch’s Perennial Garden Color ($29.95) does well as a resource for old-fashioned roses and it goes farther. I find it to be the best resource for the use of perennials and annuals in the South. The use of irises, daylilies, naturalized daffodils, larkspur and other blooming plants can allow your landscapes to have blooms 12 months of the year with relatively low maintenance.
All of us should seek to use as many native plants as possible. I believe the best native plant book is Native Texas Plants written by Andy and Sally Wasowski. Look for their book Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region.
My final gardening book recommendation for 2004 is Texas Trees: A Friendly Guide by Paul Cox and Patty Leslie. Paul is the Superintendent of SA Botanical Garden and a renowned horticulturist. Patty was mentioned in a recent column for her contribution to the design of the outstanding butterfly garden at the Mitchell Lake Wildlife Refuge. Their text is a pleasing read. Their knowledge of tree characteristics and the role that the various tree species have played in Texas history are unmatched. At under $15, Texas Trees is a good stocking stuffer.
All of the books described in this article can be found at most bookstores and on the Internet. The Garden Gate Gift Shop (210.829.1227) and Schultze House Gift Shop (210.229.9161) at HemisFair Park have many of the books and also offer great gardens to visit as part of your shopping experience.