Carla Albright

Carla Albright

I am enough of a dinosaur to like to hold a book in my hands rather than going online for everything. Curling up with a good book under a cozy blanket on a cold winter afternoon is one of life’s great pleasures to me. And although I get most of my library books on Kindle now, when it comes to gardening books, I like the real deal.

I have parted with a lot of books over the years in a process to winnow down my “stuff.” But I can’t seem to part with any of my garden or plant books so they are what fill my bookcases. A lot are reference books, like plant disease diagnosis, insect books or field guides. But a lot are how-to-do-it books with lots and lots of beautiful photos. So here are some book ideas for the gardeners on your Christmas list.

For new gardeners or gardeners new to Oregon, the good ole standard Sunset Western Garden Book - 8th edition, is a must. The most recent version was published by Sunset magazine in 2012. Amazon has it as a hardback for about $40. Or you can sometimes find lightly used copies at Powell’s Books in Portland for about half that. It is filled with basic gardening ideas as well as a plant-by-plant guide to growing conditions for thousands of west coast plants. It is also handy for looking for plants that fit in a particular area based on sun, soil and watering conditions. I use mine weekly during the growing season. If your gardener doesn’t have one already, they should. It is a necessity on a western gardener’s book shelf.

A book I turn to regularly for plant identification is Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast compiled and edited by Jim Polar and Andy MacKinnon. My copy was published in 1994 but the book was updated in in 2016. But since it is more of a field guide, the information doesn’t really go out of date. Trees, shrubs, wildflowers, aquatics, grasses, ferns, mosses, liverworts and lichens are all included in a key form so you can easily identify what you are looking at. It includes photographs as well as drawings (which I find sometimes better than photos for identification purposes). At $25, this one can be found in lots of places, including the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum’s Book Shop. This isn’t really a gardener’s book but instead a book for anyone who loves plants and long walks in the woods to find them.

A new book this year is Gardening for Beginners: Your Starting Guide to Learning How to Grow Anything from Decorative Plants to Backyard Vegetables by Kathy Campbell and put out by Light Bulb Publishing. It starts out with a quote from an unknown author: “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.” From that alone, I realized the author has my sense of humor and it is going to be a fun book, easy to read and understand, and full of good information. It is a small book, only 76 pages long, but it also has a small price tag of $8.00 on Amazon.

If your gardener loves cut flowers, a book published in 2017 by Chronicle Books might be just the right choice. Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest and Arrange Stunning

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