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    « Wordless Wednesday from the Farmers Market | Main | Guest Post on Garden Rant »

    May 19, 2011

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    Debra Lee Baldwin

    Good. It's finally out. I've been telling people about this book ever since I heard it was in the works, over a year ago. I'm a huge fan of Carol Bornstein's earlier book on natives, and have heard her speak several times. I get asked all the time how to remove a lawn (in order to replace it with a succulent garden) and now, rather than saying "it depends," I can simply refer them to this. And to you, blue-eyed Sue, if they live in the East Bay!

    It's every bit as excellent as California Natives, and I think was probably a harder book to write. And guess whose book is listed first as a reference on designing succulent gardens?

    Just amended this to say yours, Debra in case that wasn't clear.

    Kaveh

    I got this last week. I haven't had a chance to really sit down and read it yet but the one little thing that drives me crazy about it is that for all the photos they use common names for the plants.

    Call me a plant snob but it drives me crazy that if I see a picture of something I like I then have to go look up the common name to get the actual name of the plant.

    Kaveh, I was a little surprised as well as I mentally categorize this book as a "highbrow" garden book and would have expected them to lead with botanical. Whether to use common or botanical, text vs. captions, was much discussed when Rebecca and I were writing our book. Including the botanical name provides more information but can really slow down the prose if the main intent of the section is to provide design advice. Because they have such awesome, specific lists at the end of most of the design sections, in this case I think they made the right choice. And of course the plant profiles are all alphabetized by botanical name. I hope you'll find time to read it! I think you'll come away with a lot of good ideas.

    Kaveh

    Yeah it isn't a big complaint. I just can't remember the last gardening book I read that used common names in that way. I found it kind of jarring. I look forward to reading it when I have some free time.

    lostlandscape (James)

    What a coincidence. Bart O'Brien was last week's speaker at my native plant meeting. It was an easy crowd to sell on the idea of removing a lawn, but the book's focus wasn't on California natives and the wide selection of plants didn't go over quite as well with that crowd. He showed a slide with the common blue fescue and admitted as much that it didn't stay looking good for many years. But then he showed a patch of 'Siskiyou Blue' that had stayed looking great for decades. I wonder which kind the book showed? (I've only flipped through this book.)

    The book only identifies photos by common name, so I'm not sure. Supposedly Idahoensis is a tougher variety, but it doesn't have the dramatic pop of some of the bluer cultivars like 'Siskiyou Blue' or 'Elijah Blue'. I've cut it out of my plant palette completely as it's just too unpredictable and clients often end up disappointed. I've started using a California native, Calamagrostis filicifolia, instead. Not as blue, but a lovely habit. Haven't had any in the ground for much more than a year so I'm looking forward to seeing how they perform over time.

    ryan

    I've been meaning to check this book out. Easily half of our jobs these days involve sheet mulching at least some amount of lawn and I teach a class on the subject at Heather Farms. It seems like a good one for the recommended books list, though I'll probably be agreeing with your quibbles.

    I'm horrified at the idea of them saying 12-24" on top of the cardboard or newspaper. That's ridiculous, like you said for both the expense and the visual results. I've successfully sheet mulched lawns with newspaper and 2-3 inches of mulch when for some reason I wasn't even adding the 2-3 inches of compost. It can be kind of a tough topic -- I hear myself get a little fudge-y when I get to that part of the class and there are always a lot of questions -- but it sounds like this book doesn't do all that great a job for this really important topic. Sheet mulching saves so much time and energy and money. So I'll probably recommend the book with some qualifications.

    Their book on Cal Natives as one of my absolute favorites. It'll be interesting to see if this one enters the canon too.

    I like your sheet mulching page. And your review of this book is much better that the Sunset review which just reads like an advertisement.

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