14 February 2012

The New Sunset Western Garden Book - 2012 edition

The latest edition of Sunset Western Garden Book will replace my old one that I've thumbed so often that the bottom right page corner is curled upward. Do you have a garden book that you have so thoroughly used?

The last time this 80-year old, most-valuable resource was revised was in 2007 so it was definitely time for an update.  The thumb-able firm (not hardback) cover book is now 760+ pages covering 9,000 plant varieties.

In theory the Western Garden Book is a resource for North American gardeners from British Columbia and Alaska to Colorado and New Mexico and the specific microclimate zone maps are great for those areas. But, the information in the rest of the book is current and valuable to all gardeners. You just have to figure out your own microclimate.

It is easy to read and has all the data we are looking for when researching which seeds and plants to buy for this year's garden.

You'll find a plant description, hardiness zones, light and moisture requirements and mature plant size, along with a photo of one of the varieties detailed.

Since I have Dianthus seeds peeking out of seed starting mix in the cold frame, it was the first place I looked.

Here's what I found -
Dianthus - Pink - Caryophyllaceae - Perennials, Biennials and Annuals. Zones 1 to 24, light shade in hottest areas, regular water, attract butterflies.

The basic information is followed by a description of the genus (300 species and an extrememly large number of hybrids).

And, what I love about Dianthus as a ground cover "Most kinds form attractive evergreen mats or tufts of grasslike green, gray-green, blue-green, or gray-blue leaves." That is followed by a page of information about hybrids, perennials, Sweet William, carnations, etc. and there are 4 photos clarifying the differences among the selections.

Browsing the book I found  assorted outboxes such as, "The Dark Side of English Ivy", "Clinging Vines", "How to Grow Raspberries", and "Grow a Meadow".

Other surprises/delights: a page of bamboo varieties and their features, plants that attract beneficial insects, perennials for pots, silver foliage, how to stake and train plants, vegetable gardening, trees, succulents, and many other helpful sections.

Dianthus Fandango from HPS
There is a video introduction to the book's features on
YouTube here.

The list price is $35 and the online bookseller price is $20. (My review copy will be used to the point of practically worthless by the end of a single gardening season since I expect to use it and use it.)

After considerable Internet research I found very few sources for the book so be sure to use the 2012 edition ISBN when locating it. (The 2007 edition is the one that comes up on web searches.)

The New Sunset Western Garden Book: The Ultimate Gardening Guide, 2000 photos, plant finder, lots of extras.

When you find it, you'll want it on your shelf for ready reference.
 ISBN 978-0-376-03920-0. Published  by Oxmoor House.

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