Saturday, January 20, 2018

Gardening in the Pacific Northwest - a book review

I have always said that most of my gardening knowledge has come from books, a fact that pertains to almost every other aspect in my life as well. The first thing I did after moving here was find as many gardening books as I could that related to gardening in this region. I was excited when I heard that Paul Bonine and Amy Campion were writing a gardening book. I have met both authors - Paul is the owner of Xera in Portland, a fantastic nursery that offers lots of unusual and unique plants. Amy is a writer and photographer and we both are currently serving on the HPSO Board. They are two of the smartest people I know when it comes to plants and gardening in this region.

This book is a great introduction and a must-have for recent transplants to the area (such as myself!). The first section deals with the all-important (and extremely complicated) subject of climate. There are eight climatic sub-regions in the Pacific Northwest. We live in the Willamette Valley and the weather here is far different from the entire eastern side of Washington and Oregon as well as the coast and other regions. The TV weather forecasters in Portland always give 3 separate forecast grids (Coast, Valley and Mountains). You have to understand where you are and what conditions you are working with!

"Good Garden Culture" discusses the various types of soils in the region and how to improve them as well as tips on irrigation, mulching, and dealing with plant diseases and pests.

The largest portion of the book is a plant directory (Perennials, Shrubs, Vines, Trees) that lists the best plants for the region. A photograph of every plant is included as well as a description and growing requirements. This is where the book will get you into trouble. Although I grew many of the same plants in Alabama, there are exciting temptations here like Fuchsias, Cistus (Rock Rose), Grevillea, Choisya (Mexican Orange), Ceonothus (California Lilac), Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) and the list goes on.

A final section covers design facets and features photos of many private gardens in the region.

This book is a must-have for the Pacific Northwest gardener, full of valuable advice and highly recommended.




Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

7 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great book! I wish NC had a book like that, as hardiness zones range all the way from zone 5a in the mountains to 8b on the coast. However, NC doesn't have nearly as much difference in rainfall across the state as Washington does! The diversity in climate across Washington is amazing.

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    1. Timber Press also has a book titled Gardening in the South: The Complete Homeowner's Guide.

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  2. Thank you for the review, Phillip! Glad you are enjoying the book. It should be especially useful for experienced gardeners such as yourself who are new to the area.

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  3. Sounds like a great book! Definitely would be on my list if I ever moved to the PNW. I wish there was a similar book specific to Alabama. (Is there?)

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    1. Hi Deb, YES, there is also Gardening in the South by the same publisher (Timber Press).

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  4. Great review! I got the book at Xera's opening last weekend. Signed and all! I'm excited to read it. I wish I would have had this when I first started gardening all those years ago.

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