9 Great Book Suggestions from Pacific Horticulture
I have been waiting for a gardening book like Joe Seals’ Back to the New Basics for quite a long time. Thankfully, he has not burdened us with rote lists of seasonal to-do tasks that tire us out before we even get to them. Seals knows we hanker for knowledge and practices that help us get the desired outcomes we want in the garden. And chief on my list is this: what makes a garden hum and thrum with liveliness and beauty? What is the source of awe we feel upon stepping into such a place?
Read our Book Review by Anne Biklé here.
It was no surprise that the author, Sara Calvosa Olson (Karuk), wrote a cookbook (foregrounded as an act of resilience and resistance to cultural genocide) that “requires a connection to nature and food gathering that you will need to nurture,” thus bringing kincentric ecology and relationships with wild food to our table. Olson encourages us to understand growth cycles, the environment in which the food grows, the ways in which Native peoples steward and prepare the food—and to give to the Native Elders in our communities first. Readers should not skip the introduction and head straight to the recipes.
Read our Book Review by Rick Flores here.
Penguin Random House
This book begins with a comprehensive introduction to basic garden principles. Peirce walks you through considerations for planning, crop management, and limitations based on your location in the Bay Area. She devotes chapters and updated references on how to source and grow local and organic plants and seeds, alongside managing common pests, diseases, and weeds. Peirce offers lovely anecdotes about growing food in our region and shares advice from local horticultural experts and home gardeners. Many local gardeners may tell you that her detailed planting calendars and charts are indispensable when planning your yearlong garden! Charts are broken into microclimates from foggier to sunnier, with an appendix that includes her updated inland planting calendars for regions such Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties. I have used her planting guides for edibles, flowers, and herbs for over 10 years and they have proven to be accurate and approachable for new and experienced gardeners alike.
Read our Book Review by Dr. Jamie Chan here.
Darkness is something humans strive to keep at bay, but under the glow of twilight a nocturnal universe stirs to life. Nightshade blossoms bloom, javelinas parade down city streets, fox eyes gleam under the cover of the forest, and tiny sparrows fly incredible distances, guided by the stars. Naturalist Charles Hood and bat biologist José Gabriel Martínez-Fonseca unravel these enigmas in Nocturnalia, inviting readers on an environmental romp through the wonders of the Wild West
As an urban gardener where buildings act similarly to mountains, creating dry microclimates, I too appreciate learning about plants indigenous to the rain shadow. In fact, the reputation of the Pacific Northwest as a very wet place is challenged by the authors who remind us that “the arid interior and dry summers region-wide” are home to a lot of drought-adapted plants. In the cultivation notes of many plants included in the compendium, I notice the cautions to “water only to establish” and “do not plant in sites with continual irrigation.” Pay attention to these notes and consider dedicating an unirrigated zone of your garden to a community of these tough beauties. Grouping them together will make maintenance easier as well as ensure their success.
Read our Book Review by Leslie Davis here.
Penguin Random House
Wilson has given us an insightful look into the development of cities, a well-researched urban history. He notes that despite industrialization and concrete jungles, those who live in cities have always sought a sense of “rus in urbe,” the countryside in the city, recognizing the human need for nature to be part of our lives no matter where we live.
Read our Book Review by Saxon Holt here.
Pacific Street Publishing
We have had the pleasure of using Dr. David Keil’s new regional flora, Vascular Plants of San Luis Obispo County, California, for the last few weeks. There are a number of features that make this second edition a very user-friendly reference. The text is forthright and easy to comprehend. Keil’s keys and descriptions are clear and match line for line in the layout. This allows the user to compare features in a systematic manner. The pages are numbered in the upper outside corners and the right-hand page has family and genus along with page number. This layout makes easy work to “thumb index” through the pages.
Read our Book Review by D. R. Miller & Elizabeth Appel here.
For many of us, the buzzing of a bee elicits panic. But the next time you hear that low droning sound, look closer: the bee has navigated to this particular spot for a reason using a fascinating set of tools. She may be using her sensitive olfactory organs, which provide a 3D scent map of her surroundings. She may be following visual landmarks or instructions relayed by a hive-mate. She may even be tracking electrostatic traces left on flowers by other bees. What a Bee Knows: Exploring the Thoughts, Memories, and Personalities of Bees invites us to follow bees’ mysterious paths and experience their alien world.
Listen to Garden Futurist Episode XXVI: What a Bee Knows and Why it Matters with Stephen Buchmann here.
As we navigate the climate crisis, a sharp decline in biodiversity, financial uncertainty, and social unrest, we must reconsider what humans need most. One hope can be found in the humblest of forms—the seed. This tiny kernel can have an immense impact, providing us with community, family, clean water and air, and sufficient food. In WHAT WE SOW, author Jennifer Jewell reveals the power of seeds in our world “for food, for medicine, for utility, for the vast interconnected web we include in the concept of biodiversity and planetary health, for beauty, and for culture.”