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!
The Victorian Kitchen Garden and Other Titles
It’s nearly planting time! Some of us have been known to “jump the gun” with a bit of seeding in the privacy of our homes. Oldtimers know to use caution; newtimers are advised to make good use of oldtimers’ advice! While the weather is still a bit chilly and the sun still low, however, we might also suggest having a look around for books on the subject.
They can be found under more categories than just “propagation.” For instance, there’s a book in our library called “Seeds of Woody Plants in North America” that might inspire you to start a small forest. . . or at least to start replacing some of the trees being lost these days to houses and bike lanes!
Or, if you are more interested in food than in forests, the National Research Council of Canada has put out an excellent publication called simply “Vegetables of Canada.” There aren’t any fancy pictures in this one – just facts! On the shelf beside it is a much slimmer book: “The Victorian Kitchen Garden.” This one has some coloured pictures – should you happen to crave a bit of colour – but it also has charming drawings. This would interest history buffs particularly.
Farther down on the same shelf may be found the “12-month Gardener.” (This one would possibly be viewed with horror by those who think the usual gardening season is quite long enough!) And further along – for the really hardy types – there is “Winter Gardening.”
As there is a growing concern about the cost of food, as well as concern about our environments, anyone with a bit of yard or access to a garden plot is well advised to avail themselves of every snippet of information they can get.. . . and the Horticulture Centre is here to help you!
Wednesdays 9 am – 1 pm
Saturdays 10 am – 1 pm
Books for Sale
We have a selection of used books for sale in our library. To browse through the list, click on the links below: