While perusing the bookshelves in our HCP library one day, I chanced upon some books that we might not ordinarily use as light bedtime reading. One of them is called “Breeding Ornamental Plants.” The authors have advanced degrees in botany and plant breeding, so anything one might glean from a book that is written by such well qualified authors should certainly be worth the time spent with it!
Now most of us don’t often have the time or patience to save seeds, much less engage in advanced activities such as cross pollinating. However, many of us do tend to be put off by the price of seeds these days and would like to know just a little more about propagating plants. Hit or miss has likely been our usual approach heretofore, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to not just grow plants for little or no cost…. or also maybe develop something totally unique! (Hey, we might become famous like Mr. Dahl (dahlias).
A book called “Sowing a Better Garden,” written by John Kelly, a BBC presenter and columnist a few years ago, is the next one to be spotted during our casual scan. This book is full of interesting stuff, as would be expected from someone with the experience of having made gardening popular with his listeners and viewers.
But if one is specifically interested in growing flowers, then “Garden Flowers from Seed” is for you. This is an illustrated dictionary, so you not only get some information about quite a number of flowers but there are pictures – very helpful to newcomers to flower ID.
The books mentioned above just happened to be the first ones spotted when checking the subject of propagation. There are dozens of books that have been written describing the thrills and chills experienced by both new and experienced gardeners, all full of good ideas – and cautions!
Reading and gardening make good companions; we encourage you to spend time with both!
Plant Explorations from Comfort of Home
Nowadays we reap great benefits from the efforts of those brave people who journeyed to distant lands in search of new plants. However, now that we have such a variety of plant material to choose from, it behooves us to take a bit of trouble to find out just what the best growing conditions might be for each plant that happens to appeal to us. One of the first things to be considered is where the plant came from, but that doesn’t necessarily give us all the information we might need. For instance, even though a particular plant may have been first discovered south of the equator, we can’t assume it was growing in a hot and humid jungle. It’s possible it was growing three thousand feet up the side of a mountain! That might indicate to us that it likes cooler conditions and perhaps grows perfectly well in poor soil so long as it has good drainage. (Heavy clay and poor drainage would definitely need some amending if we were to grow it successfully on the Saanich Peninsula!) Much enlightenment along these lines can be gained from “The Looking-Glass Garden – Plants and gardens of the southern hemisphere” by Peter Thompson. Just travelling with him to Chile, New Zealand, etc. is a pleasure even if we aren’t “into” plants! Should you have become interested in some plants that just happen to have originated in the southern hemisphere, you might want to go to one of the books we have in the library that tells us exactly the best conditions for a host of plants – even suggesting plants specifically for problem places (such “Perfect Plants for Problem Places” by Gay Search). After becoming very competent horticulturists (even if a bit over confident at times!), we might want to venture into plantings that make our gardens stand apart from the neighbours’. Now that would require having a look into “Grow Something Different – Success with unusual plants” by Nick Wray. So there you have it – three suggestions out of a collection of dozens of similar books you might use for inspiration and information in order to avoid exasperation . .. or even total defoliation!