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California Gardener’s Guide, Volume II

Articles: California Gardener’s Guide, Volume II

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit to being more than a little familiar with the format of Nan Sterman’s excellent new book, California Gardener’s Guide, Volume II. In 2005, Mary Robson and I co-authored the Washington and Oregon Gardener’s Guide, a Northwest cousin to Sterman’s new book. As a newcomer to California, I’ve been waiting for this book to appear. Having given up my Seattle garden, along with plants like hostas and hellebores that loved shade and moist growing conditions, I’m now faced with a new backyard, a tabula rasa for a novice to California gardening. Like many gardeners, I want to grow and nurture plants that are appropriate for my surroundings, including ornamental natives.

Sterman, a California gardening expert who embraces sustainable practices such as designing with drought-tolerant plants, serves up her top recommendations: 186 plants for California’s diverse growing areas. This is no small task, as she notes in her introduction: “From north to south and east to west, there are dramatic differences in vegetation, geology, topography, and climate.”

Before revealing her recommendations for the “best of the best”—annuals/biennials, bulbs, fruits,...

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