Book Reviews

March 2024


Katie Scott and Kathy Willis

Imagine a museum for the plant kingdom. A treasury of art and science. Botanicum is an exhibition catalogue for this wondrous place.

The exquisite botanical art on every page in this oversized volume could be framed. The fascinating science looks at a diversity of plants from tiny algae to 80m trees. The galleries travel around the world showcasing the history and unique characteristics of the main plant groups. Many interesting and unusual species are highlighted.

February 2024

You Are Light

Aaron Becker

This elegant, poetic children’s book is an ode to light. It celebrates important connections in the natural world using words, illustrations and die-cut pages.

The creative format integrates a changing colour wheel simulating stained glass windows making the story come alive. The lyrical text is enhanced by stenciled watercolour art. Flowers, food, water and even the moon are all aspects of nature influenced by the sun. Families will appreciate that children are drawn into the story by connecting the wonder of light in everything, including us.

Available now to borrow from the new and growing HCP library children’s book collection

January 2024

Attracting Native Pollinators

The Xerces Society Guide

While bees are the most important single group, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies and beetles also pollinate flowering plants, including 1/3 of our food. The fact that there are multiple threats to their health and habitat is alarming. As these insects become extinct, the effects on plant and other species can be disastrous.

Fortunately, the Xerces Society has written this comprehensive manual to help anyone with even a few plants act on this important issue. Creating a pollinator-friendly habitat can be as easy as providing flowers for foraging and host plants for nesting. Attracting Native Pollinators offers practical and specific information on all aspects of building and managing a supportive environment.

Excellent photos make this a practical ID guide as well, especially for native bees. Identifying, foraging habits, nests and conservation concerns are discussed for each genus. Did you know that gardeners often cross paths with the Andrena Mining bee? It nests in lawns. (No worries, their stingers can’t penetrate our skin.)

While some threats to pollinators are large scale, habitat loss and pesticide use are aspects we can all influence. As you consult your seed catalogues this winter, consider how these phenomenal beings can interact with your garden.

Attracting Native Pollinators is available now to borrow from the HCP Library.

December 2023

No review this month

November 2023

What’s Inside a Flower?

Rachel Ignotofsky

Go on an adventure in the natural world with Rachel Ignotofsky’s book What’s Inside a Flower? Written by a NYT bestselling author, illustrator and designer, this book takes us on an educational nature walk through the life cycle of plants. Engaging text and vivid illustrations present a wealth of science facts about flower biology and pollination. The charming, layered text builds an appreciation of all things flowers. The rich, detailed images are a delightful combination of botanical illustration with whimsical art deco styling. Children in a wide age range will find this book engaging and inspiring.

Available now to borrow from the new and growing HCP library children’s book collection.

October 2023

Thank You, Tree

Illustrated by Fiona Lee, Text by Hannah Fries

To celebrate the beginning of the HCP Library's brand-new children's collection, today we're sharing our first book donation, Thank You, Tree by Fiona Lee and Hannah Fries.

In this lovely board book gratitude is expressed for the gifts of trees. Throughout the seasons diverse children describe what they appreciate about trees (branches to swing and climb on, shade on a hot day etc). Lovely illustrations and simple text make this book suitable for youngest children. Searching for the sometimes-elusive chipmunk on each page adds a dimension of play. Plus, the guide to tree species at the back with an invitation to find each throughout the book adds another element for slightly older children.


September 2023

Held by the Land (Wa ch'ích'istway ta temíxw)

Leigh Joseph

In Held by the Land, Leigh Joseph describes how treasured moments in her life have been spent on the land where she was at ease, sure and connected. While planting, harvesting, sharing meals and more she felt supported and held by the natural world. She sees this connection as a relationship where the earth shares its bountiful botanical gifts with us, but we also have a responsibility to give back to these relatives.

Held by the Land is part narrative, part botanical field guide and part recipe book. Joseph's love and respect for her Squamish culture and its important plants come though clearly. She teaches us that we owe it to future generations to build sustainable and respectful relationships with plants. Healthy ecosystems will result when we recognize our interconnectedness with the natural world.

Mindfulness is an important aspect of Joseph's harvest practices. She explains what it is, how we can integrate it and gives her example of wild rose harvests.

Plant profiles are offered for trees, shrubs, flowering herbs and more. Each listing discusses building relationships, habitat, a botanical description, sustainable harvesting, plant gifts and a recipe. With camas there is a description of how to grow this culturally important food plant to support its restoration.


August 2023

Mushrooms of British Columbia

Andy MacKinnon and Kem Luther

The poisonous deathcap (Amanita phalloides) is believed to have been brought to BC on the roots of imported trees that were planted frequently in parks and along city streets. A sighting has been made in a Garry oak meadow. The BC Centre for Disease Control and several districts, including Oak Bay, have issues alerts about it.

Should you want to delve deeper into the world of fungi the Royal BC Museum Handbook Mushrooms of British Columbia
will get you off to a great start. As with other publications from the museum, this handbook is beautiful and practical. Excellent photographs and thorough descriptions assist in identifying over 350 species of fungal fruiting bodies.

Beyond that, there are articles throughout that discuss the world of mushrooms from a broader perspective. Conservation, climate change,medicinal and Indigenous uses, commercial harvesting and of course poisonous varieties are all given attention.

A success story close to home involves Observatory Hill, home to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, in Saanich. Starting in 2004 Oluna Ceska led one of the world's longest and largest mushroom studies there. Over 1,400 species were identified. Among other things, her work showed that mushrooms can be found throughout the year yet may not appear from one year to the next.

Common names of mushrooms can be unusual, describing food (fried chicken), animals (bellybutton hedgehog), humans (dead man's foot) the supernatural (witch's butter) or miscellaneous things (train wrecker). To find out more about these and others, consider borrowing Mushrooms of British Columbia from the HCP Library.


July 2023

Designing with Plants

Piet Oudolf with Nöel Kingsbury

Gardens with emotion and mood are the hallmarks of Piet Oudolf's garden designs. In Designing with Plants Oudolf re-evaluates the concept of beauty in the garden. Beyond colour, he considers form, texture, light, and movement in the seasonal lifecycle of plants. This overview of Oudolf's theory and practice is informative and visually stunning. As Nöel Kingsbury says in the introduction, it's aim is to explain his work and make his method accessible. His naturalistic style uses perennials and grasses to create gardens that are full, abundant, and relaxed. His broad design principles balance specific details, such as a directory of key plants. In his own words, “Gardening is a living process, which is why this book proposes the creation of something that changes through the years, even from day to day.” Piet Oudolf is an award-winning garden designer, nurseryman, and author. Contemplate his thought-provoking insights on garden design by reading Designing with Plants. Available to borrow now from the HCP Library. Find other books by Piet Oudolf and Nöel Kingsbury in our online catalogue. His documentaries “5 Seasons” and “Paradise within Arm's Reach” are available on YouTube.


June 2023

Right Plant, Right Place

By Nicole Ferguson

Have you ever been at a garden centre and made a spontaneous purchase based on looks alone? Welcome to the club. Now you can avoid unsuitable plants by consulting Nicole Ferguson's book Right Plant, Right Place. The “right plant, right place” principle was inspired by Beth Chatto (19232018). It is a key to successful gardening. (Check our online catalogue for many library books by her.) Ferguson's book Right Plant, Right Place is for everyone, beginner to expert. It leads readers to zero-in on plants that will grow well in their own gardens. Sections include growing conditions, purpose, and appearance, with chapters such as “Plants suitable for dry soils in hot, sunny sites” and “Decorative plants with flowers suitable for cutting.” Each entry has a photo, description of plant size, flowering season, needs, and care. Rounding out the chapters are bonus lists of plants found elsewhere in the book. Check out this comprehensive reference so you can go plant shopping with a purpose. Available to borrow now from the HCP Library.


May 2023

The Crevice Garden

By Kenton Seth and Paul Spriggs

A conuence of mountain climbing and a career in horticulture brought local author Paul Spriggs deep into the world of gardening with rocks. The passion that Spriggs and co-author Kenton Seth bring to this topic is evident in this new, beautifully illustrated guide to what crevice gardening is and how to design, build and plant one. In denition, this style of rock gardening buries rocks by at least half and uses the crevices between them “to mimic the conditions that many di cult-togrow plants need.” The history, dynamics, advantages, and planning discussions lead to the section on the eight steps in building your own crevice garden. While creating one takes effort, the maintenance is less than traditional beds and borders as the plants are slow-growing and long-lived. Case studies from such places as Wisley and Port Townsend demonstrate the beauty and exibility of this gardening technique. Beacon Hill Park is listed as a resource to visit. The plant proles section offers a starting pointand a reference. (Dragon's Head (Dracocephalum) is a great choice for a beginning crevice gardener.) Plant lists also help with design. Through this book I gained a deeper appreciation of the alpine world, elements both hard and soft, and ways it can be incorporated into our own gardens. It is available now to borrow from the HCP Library.


April 2023

Gathering Moss

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Delicate and elementary, mosses (bryophytes) are the most primitive of land plants. They lack flowers, fruit, seeds, and roots. Yet, as Robin Wall Kimmerer puts it, “Mosses are not elevator music; they are the intertwined threads of a Beethoven quartet.”

In Gathering Moss, Kimmerer paints a portrait of this amazing plant that lends us a microscope as entry to their complex world. She combines her Indigenous ways of understanding, her scientific training, and education from the plants themselves into a natural and cultural history.

Composed merely of stems and leaves, mosses (22,000 species worldwide) thrive in the ‘boundary layer' where air meets land. You may have felt this microclimate when lying on the ground. Like a floating greenhouse, it traps heat, water vapor and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis.

While not eaten, mosses over the centuries have had many uses, most notably as diapers for babies packed into cradleboards. Despite their simplicity, Kimmerer shows us that mosses exist not as solitary beings in nature, but in context, in a web of relationships.

You can borrow Gathering Moss, or Robin Wall Kimmerer's other book Braiding Sweetgrass, from the HCP Library.


March 2023

Perennial Vegetables

Eric Toensmeier

To expand the bounds of your kitchen garden, consider checking out Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier. This catalogue of plant profiles includes some exotic and unusual species, little-known and underappreciated. Consider Lycium barbarum (wolfberry or goji berry). While it isn't a cure-all for disease, it's shoots, leaves and berries are used in traditional Asian cuisine. It is one in a long list of perennial vegetables of Toensmeier's recommendations for Pacific Northwest gardening. Other surprising options include fuki, jinenjo, achira, and scorzonera.

The idea with perennial vegetables is that they complement annuals, not replace them. Being low-maintenance and extending the harvest season gives them some advantages as food crops. They can taste delicious, yield abundantly, and produce for many years without replanting, benefits that will be attractive to many gardeners.

Toensmeier also discusses tips and techniques, design ideas, and native vs.non-native. Each of the over 100 thorough plant profiles includes a North American map of growth range, history, ecology, preferences, harvest, uses and much more. Many drawings and photographs supplement the text.

This American Horticultural Society book award-winner was written by a permaculture advocate and teacher who brings enthusiasm and expertise to the topic of edible perennials. Available now to borrow from the HCP Library.


February 2023

Armitage's Garden Annuals: A Color Encyclopedia

Allan M. Armitage

Many gardeners are studying seed catalogues this month and planning their best garden yet. Annuals can play their part in the design by injecting quick, long-lasting colour. Whether you're planting your own seeds now or setting out transplants later, Armitage's Garden Annuals: A Color Encyclopedia can make choosing them fun.

This isn't your typical encyclopedia. Armitage has written lively text to go with over 1300 gorgeous photos. He evaluates the garden worthiness and beauty of these annuals with personal commentary and inspiring advice. He describes acalyphas as schizophrenic, and the genus Amaranthus as the Halloween award-winner; Acmella oleracea is the toothache plant, and torenia is the wishbone flower.

This attractive and easy to use book includes more that 2 dozen fine lists of annuals suited to needs such as prickly, naturalizing, unique flower or fruit, and “love the water”. Armitage focuses on plants that earn their keep.

Armitage has an impressive resume that includes prestigious awards, 9 books, and current head of the University of Georgia Horticultural Gardens. This book was written as complementary to his Armitage's Manual of Annuals, Biennials and Half-Hardy Plants, which goes into more depth. Both of these books, and others written by Armitage, are available to borrow from the HCP Library.

While visually very attractive, this authoritative study is not a light read. But if you want to see the difference in winter between a clematis and a ginko, or if you want to identify your species of willow, this book just might be the one for you. It's available to borrow now from the HCP Library.


January 2023

Identification of Trees and Shrubs in Winter Using Buds and Twigs

Bernd Schulz

As well as cleaning tools and reading seed catalogues, there is now an opportunity for gardeners to take a close look at plants in their winter state. For the enthusiast there is a guide to identifying almost every temperate tree that we are likely to find growing in our gardens and arboretums. Identification of Trees and Shrubs in Winter Using Buds and Twigs is a monumental taxonomic reference work published by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

To help guide us through a systematic approach to the identification of deciduous woody plants in winter, this book by Bern Schulz includes an identification key and a quick reference key. Over 1900 drawings and paintings by the author make this comprehensive manual a practical tool.

Most of this hefty volume covers true dicotyledons, but other angiosperms and gymnosperms are also studied. The Basics of Botany chapter covers the structure of woody plants including stems, prickles and fruit. The Index to Botanical Terms helps make it more accessible.

While visually very attractive, this authoritative study is not a light read. But if you want to see the difference in winter between a clematis and a ginko, or if you want to identify your species of willow, this book just might be the one for you. It's available to borrow now from the HCP Library.


November 2022

Color for Adventurous Gardeners

Christopher Lloyd

“Glamorous, sophisticated and therefore greatly to be desired” is how Christopher Lloyd describes the colour black and its rarity in flowers and plants. More than just a catalogue of flowers, Color for Adventurous Gardeners is about the excitement of gardening.

Lloyd supports learning the rules of colour but mainly so you can break them. “The limitations imposed by rules are a safe haven, but the adventurous gardener will want to try something different.” (Heads up: he didn't use a colour wheel.) His bold message is that in the right conditions, every colour can be used well with any other. Even the most challenging, orange. His recipe is experiment, review and carry on, but always use plants you love.

Christopher Lloyd (1921-2006) held the RHS Victoria Medal of Honour and was an officer of the Order of the British Empire. His reputation as a gardening author of note continues today. As you would expect, this book is lushly illustrated with photographs of individual plants and gardens filled with riotous colour.

Color for Adventurous Gardeners and other books by Christopher Lloyd are on the shelves and available to borrow from the HCP Library. See our online catalogue to see our entire book collection or send an email to [email protected] to discover them all.

October 2022

Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life: The plants and places that inspired the classic children's tales

Marta McDowell
Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) was enchanted by gardens from a young age. Long before the invention of Peter Rabbit (self-published in 1901 at 35), she was drawing and painting botanical illustrations. Her parents encouraged herand sent her to art lessons. And as an adolescent with health problems, this was her best method of coping. Fast forward to 1905, and after the death of her ancé, Potter bought a working farm with a cottage and a modest garden. Marta McDowell's Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life is part biography, part seasonal garden essay and part travelogue to the British landscapes that inspired Potter. It is profusely illustrated with her artwork (plants, fungi and landscapes), plus photos from the past and present. Tables of her plants (grown and published) round out this thorough inspection of the botanical aspect of her life. Borrow this book from the HCP Library and be inspired.

September 2022

Year-Around Harvest: Winter Gardening on the Coast
Resilient Gardens: Pollinator Gardens, Garlic Diseases, Pest Update
ISBN 9780991733538
West Coast Gardening: Natural Insect, Weed & Disease Control
ISBN 9780991733507
By Linda Gilkeson
Linda Gilkeson is a well-known and highly respected Master Gardener, educator, writer and entomologist on the West Coast. Her books support us in having healthy gardens with large crops in natural ways. Backyard Bounty is an all-around guide to organically growing more food with less work. Practical and specific to the Pacific Northwest, she shows us how busy people can harvest a surprising amount of food in efficient, low-maintenance gardens. After briefly explaining how plants grow so that we can give them what they need to thrive, she covers many topics that help make a garden flourish.
Year-Around Harvest: Winter Gardening on the Coast is for anyone who wants to enjoy fresh home-grown fruit and vegetables all year. And who wouldn't? Gilkeson shows us that it doesn't take a lot of extra effort or expense. For example, it is a misconception that a greenhouse or cold frame is necessary for winter gardening here. This manual highlights cold-hardy vegetables, and summer grown vegetables and fruit with good storage qualities.
In Resilient Gardens: Pollinator Gardens, Garlic Diseases, Pest Update we are given a plethora of information on the important topic of pollinators. As mentioned in the Introduction, “Resilient gardens depend on a diverse collection of pollinators, adapted to different plants and conditions. This includes hundreds of species of wild bees along with thousands of species of flies and many other insects.” Where, what and how to plant for pollinators, plus nesting sites, is the major focus of this book. Bonus sections are about garlic and pests & diseases.
West Coast Gardening: Natural Insect, Weed & Disease Control is a detailed look at the problems that can plague any garden. It covers vegetables, fruit, roses and other ornamentals. Each description in the major pests & diseases section includes life cycle, damage, prevention and control. The discussion on invasive and noxious plants is important. As with all her books, the resources are specific to the Pacific Northwest.

August 2022

By Mike Tibbs
ISBN 9781883052591
You may be under the impression that orchids are difficult to grow. While some are, most from nurseries, florists and grocery stores are easy to grow as long as the label instructions are followed. For a closer look at this diverse plant family, Orchids by Mike Tibbs can be a valuable resource.
Orchids make up one of the largest families in the plant kingdom. Flowers range from delicate and tiny to big and bold: the pinhead-sized miniature moss orchid (Bulbophyllum globuliforme) to the tiger orchid (Grammatophyllum speciosum) whose 6” flowers can bloom on 10' stems up to 100 times. The moth orchid (Phalaenopsis) is well-known as an easy-to-grow long-blooming species and is a popular houseplant in Europe. As they are found around the world, except for the poles and driest deserts, the sections in the book on cool, intermediate and warm climate orchids are intriguing and valuable for collectors. And should you be really enthusiastic, there's a section on entering competitions.
But for those of us starting out with orchids, there are chapters on choosing the right plant, all aspects of cultivation, and pests and diseases. Classification and biological structure are explained clearly. For example, the epiphytic variety grow on trees and their aerial roots absorb all their nutrients and moisture from the air (not from their host tree). Also, seeds are so small they resemble dust and rely on fungus to grow.
Orchids have been seen as symbols of grace and beauty in many cultures for centuries. They have a tremendous variety of exotic colours, forms and scents. They are valued for their extended blooming period. If you are attracted to this lovely plant, check out the book Orchids by Mike Tibbs from the HCP Library.

July 2022

Artists in their Gardens
By Valerie Easton & David Laskin
ISBN 1570612447
Art and gardens! What a wondrous combination! With the book Artists in their Gardens we can go on a tour through 10 gardens of accomplished artists. Their art is public, but their gardens are for their own enjoyment. Yet here they share their extraordinary spaces and how they blend the creative process with the gardening process. The most surprising element may be a pyramid of bowling balls at the entrance to Johanna Nitzke Marquis's garden, inviting visitors to see gardens, art, and garden art in a whole new way. Also included is our own Robert Bateman, who's Salt Spring Island bluff incorporates elements of his favourite travels yet stays true to the Pacific Northwest environment. As the authors write, “Passion is the key. The passion to take risks, go with their obsessions, and simply to be crazy because it's fun. Perhaps it is as much courage as it is passion – a courage to break the rules, to pay no attention to what the neighbours may think.”
Borrow this book from the HCP Library and be inspired.

June 2022

Butterflies of British Columbia
By John Acorn and Ian Sheldon
ISBN 1551051133
If, like me, you're out in the garden more these days, you may happen upon a butterfly. How fortunate! Not only can they be a symbol of light and hope, their beauty can inspire joy.
And if, like me, you're wondering what the name of this butterfly is that you just happened upon, look no further than this HCP Library book, Butterflies of British Columbia. It's an abundantly and beautifully illustrated, easy-to-use field guide showing 180 species and the intricacy of their wing patterns. Each listing's large illustrations help with identification. Similar species are also illustrated and described. The entries are rounded out with wingspan, alternative names, identification mark descriptions, preferred caterpillar food plants, habitat and flight season, and a B.C. map of known locations. Comments are in a conversational style rather than an academic reporting style.
Butterflies of British Columbia opens with a Quick Reference Guide; 9 pages of illustrations for at-a-glance identification with page numbers for further investigation. The introduction includes helpful discussions on butterfly names, biology and identification. The back matter includes two indexes of names, a checklist and a glossary (buttergack is the annoying petty politics that butterfly enthusiasts sometimes exhibit!).
According to Butterflies of British Columbia, most individual butterflies only live a week however their combined flight season may extend over a month or more. Take for example the Great Arctic butterfly (Oeneis nevadensis). It can be seen in June and early July, but only in even numbered years, as it has a two-year cycle. It lives in forest edges and clearings. This would be a spectacular find, as it is rare. Our more familiar Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) migrates back to B.C. in June from its winter home in California. Hopefully efforts to save this species at risk will improve our opportunities to encounter it in our gardens.
So, whether you just happened upon a butterfly in your garden or you're a Lepidopterist, you'll be pleased you borrowed this book from the HCP Library.

May 2022

Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls
By Nigel Dunnett and Noël Kingsbury
ISBN 0881929115
Green roofs don't have to be large. Home gardens offer innovative ways to grow plants for enthusiastic gardeners. Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls offers a good introduction to the topic so that a keen amateur could manage a small-scale project. It includes practical techniques to design, implement and maintain “extensive” living roofs, ie: minimal maintenance, less expensive, more naturalistic and under 6” deep. And should you want to work with professionals for larger scale projects, the principles outlined here will help you discuss applying them in an informed way. It's also written for horticultural and other professionals, environmentalists and policy makers.
Integrating living plants with buildings has many advantages, even in food production. In this book Dunnett and Kingsbury have outlined technologies that can have a significant impact on our natural environment. Contemporary living roofs and walls from around the world are showcased and the many photos are inspiring for armchair travelers and horticultural dreamers. Closer to home, next time you're at the HCP check out our own living roof on the Couvelier Pavilion.
This book is available to borrow from the HCP Library.

April 2022

The Tulip
By Anna Pavord
ISBN 0745746215
Although Anna Pavord is a prolific horticultural writer, this is not a how-to gardening book. It starts with her search for wild varieties on Crete, then expands into an extensive and enthusiastic historical and botanical chronicle of all things tulip.
From a wildflower of the Asian steppes, the path of the tulip around the world has involved mysteries, dramas, disasters and triumphs. The most famous is probably tulipomania of the Netherlands in the 17th century, when at the height of speculation one ‘Semper Augustus' bulb sold for the amount equivalent to a fine Amsterdam home. Little did they know that a virus spread by aphids caused the flower colour changes back then. But this is just one story of many in this thoroughly researched book on the Dutch national flower.
Borrow this book from the HCP Library to read all the tulip stories.
Bonus tip: If you are enjoying tulips in your own garden right now, remember that they go dormant in the summer, and prefer a cool, dry space to rest.

March 2022

Garden Eden: Masterpieces of Botanical Illustration
By H. Walter Lack
ISBN 3822815217
Did you know that “the golden century of botanical illustration” was 1750 to 1850?
The Austrian National Library in Vienna owns one of the world's most significant collections of botanical illustration. It was showcased in 2000 with an exhibition and the publication of this book, Garden Eden: Masterpieces of Botanical Illustration. Almost 500 coloured plates grace the pages of this hefty book. Short descriptions of a paragraph or two accompany each, but the emphasis is on the illustrations.
Perhaps you have come across drawings of roses by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. Here his gorgeous Fritillaria imperialis is included. Perhaps you haven't heard of Johann Emanual Pohl. He was a natural scientist from Prague who endured a tortuous 50-month journey to Brazil in 1817. He has 10 gorgeous drawings here.
Garden Eden: Masterpieces of Botanical Illustration is a chronological look at almost 500 years of the naturalistic representation of plants, mostly flowering, but also algae, mosses and ferns, fungi and lichen. It is a tribute and a treasure. Take a relaxing wander through this lovely book. It's hard to do it justice in words. See for yourself how these artists celebrate our natural world.
It is available to borrow from the HCP Library.

February 2022

Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants
By C. Colston Burrell
ISBN 1889538744
Invasive plants are in the news. Just this week the Times Colonist reported (thanks to the HCP) that Arum italicum has jumped the border from Washington state and is causing problems in Greater Victoria.
An invasive plant is defined as one that causes harm to humans, the environment or the economy, whereas a native plant occurs naturally in a region without human intervention. Biologists consider invasive species a tremendous threat to native plants, second only to outright loss of habitat. Amazingly, many invasive plants are still being sold despite their noted ability to spoil natural areas.
This handbook is for both plant professionals and home gardeners. It shows many ecologically safe alternatives; beautiful, regionally native species that fill the same needs as the worst invasive plants commonly used in horticulture. It covers habitat and range, ornamental attributes and uses, and growing tips, with a profusion of colour photographs. It's well organized by plant group: trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous plants, grasses.
Here are a couple of examples from the book:
Invasive tree: Ilex aquifolium (English holly); Native alternative Lithocarpus densiflorus (Tan Oak)
Invasive shrub: Buddleja (Butterfly bush); Native alternative Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush)
Invasive vine: Hedera helix (English Ivy); Native alternative Mahonia nervosa (Longleaf mahonia)
Invasive plant: Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove); Native alternative Iliamna rivularis (Mountain hollyhock)
Available to borrow from the HCP Library.

January 2022

Flower Hunters
By Mary Gribbin and John Gribbin
ISBN 0192807188
Sometimes when we face challenges it is helpful to look outside ourselves for inspiration. History and biography can show us how others have dealt with struggles and persevered with strength and determination. In Flower Hunters, Mary Gribbin and John Gribbin share the stories of men and women who did just that. In the 18th and 19th Centuries the foundations for the new science of botany were being laid. These eleven intrepid explorers traveled the globe and risked all to paint, collect seeds and plants in the wild. They faced unexplored country, rugged mountains, impenetrable jungles, hunger, disease and local hostility.
Robert Fortune battled pirates to smuggle tea plants out of China. Carl Peter Thunberg passed himself off as a Dutch physician in order to travel around Japan. And Marianne North visited almost every continent to paint beautiful and scientifically valuable records of the plants she saw. Douglas Fir, monkey puzzle tree, orchids and azaleas are just a few of the thousands of plants brought back by these adventurous early botanists.
'Flower Hunters tells of their lives, their adventures, their scientific quest, and the lasting impact of their travels in our familiar garden plants.' Available to borrow from the HCP Library.

November 2021

The Winter Garden (ISBN 978-1-55870-789-4)
by Jane Sterndale-Bennett

This eye-catching book, The Winter Garden, takes a close look at the horticultural possibilities for the quietest season. The cover features deciduous dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) whose brightly coloured stems in winter are a prime garden attraction. Inside, many excellent photos illustrate the text beautifully. As Sterndale-Bennett shows, winter foliage can be surprisingly rich and varied, even if the palette has muted tones. Her foliage section has many entries, from large conifers to groundcovers, all displayed by colour. She includes a section on brown, tan and orange of course; but also ones on gold, silver and blue. This chapter is like window shopping!

We all know growing conditions vary widely. Sterndale-Bennett emphasizes that matching plant to place is key to a successful winter garden. Her section on growing conditions covers the usual situations (clay, woodland, container, etc), but from a winter garden perspective.

The Winter Garden also includes a discussion on enjoying our gardens in winter beyond colour, such as with scent, texture, light and movement.
This book inspired me to take a fresh look at my own garden. Besides having late fall and early spring interest, I've now got some ideas for adding plants for winter focus. You may find it inspiring also. It's available to borrow from the HCP Library.

And for more inspiration, next time you're here at the HCP take a stroll through the Doris Page Winter Garden. Key elements include coloured berries, bark and stems, flowers, fragrance and ornamental evergreens. Doris Page is credited with bringing Hellebores to Vancouver Island.

September 2021

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest (ISBN 978-0-7352-3775-9)
By Suzanne Simard

Few books have been requested at the HCP Library more than this one. Finding the Mother Tree, the latest addition to our library shelves, is the 2021 environmental science memoir by a ‘pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence', Suzanne Simard. Having spent 4 decades studying how trees communicate, this UBC ecology professor explains in her new book how the internet of the forest below ground is connected, with the biggest, oldest matriarch at the centre of the community. This ‘Mother Tree' helps organize a powerful network where mycorrhizal (fungal) links are used to send chemical signals. She describes how trees are social, cooperative organisms that learn, adapt and remember. She interprets forest society. In the beginning her evidence was highly controversial. Now the science is known to be rigorous, peer-reviewed and widely published. It influences provincial forestry policy and inspires scientific conversations worldwide. Simard comes from a long line of foresters, and in this book her story is tightly interwoven with that of the forest.

August 2021

Smith & Hawken Garden Structures (ISBN 0-7611-1406-8)
by Linda Joan Smith

A garden structure can be simple, common, grand or rare. It most often comes to the garden to fill a specific need, but it also can do more: alter a garden's mood, guide its uses, anchor it in time, and deepen its meaning.

Smith says the ultimate power of a garden structure is to make a powerful composition out of the chaos nature gives us.
Smith & Hawken Garden Structures covers all the different ways to create a framework on which a garden grows, including gates, fences, arbors, paths, decks, even potting sheds. And much more. Many projects are of wood, but other attractive materials are used such as brick, iron, stone, tile, concrete, and of course, plants (wattle, anyone?).

With a bounty of large colour photographs, this book is a visual feast. You may come away with motivation and a vision for a structure in your own garden after reading it.

July 2021

Year Round Containers, Baskets & Boxes (ISBN: 978-1552851036)
by Graham Strong and Claire Phoenix

A garden container can be all about instant colour, but more than that, it can be a wildflower creation, a child's project, or even edible. As well as a basket or a window box, plants can be grown in unusual containers such as a colander, a kettle or even a log. This book is full of ideas about design, styles and colour for all sorts of containers, baskets and window boxes. The plant directory has the usual lists for shade and drought tolerant plants. As a bonus, there are lists for:

Star quality plants
Plants to perform a floral marathon
Rapid growers for quick effect
Scented flowers and leaves

It has over 60 plans to choose from or use as inspiration for your own creations. Each plan has step-by-step instructions on how to create and tend to your planting. A full-page photo shows the completed project at its peak display.

While this book looks at container plants for all seasons, its emphasis is on summer, with many projects performing their best from June to September. So if you're looking for a dash of quick colour, something for a tricky spot, or have a container looking for a purpose, consider borrowing this book from the HCP Library to inspire a new planting.

June 2021

The Earth's Blanket: Traditional Teachings for Sustainable Living (ISBN 0-295-98739-1)
by Nancy J. Turner

According to the Nlaka'pmx (Thompson) Interior Salish people of BC, plants and grasses are the Blanket of the Earth. If too much vegetation is destroyed, the earth weeps. The stories, values and understandings in this book are focused mainly on BC landscapes and cultures. It ‘explores the wealth of ecological knowledge and the spiritual connection to the natural world that is fundamental to Indigenous cultures.' In sharing this ethnobotanical knowledge, Nancy J. Turner hopes that this book will highlight the depth and richness of this wisdom, so that all people may live more gently on the earth.

Nancy J. Turner has been learning from Indigenous elders about the relationships between plants and people since 1967. Her first Indigenous teacher was Christopher Paul of the Saanich Nation. She has been adopted by a number of families and given Indigenous names. All of her work is published with permission of the storytellers.

Borrow this book from the HCP Library and gain a deeper appreciation of these teachings in time for Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, June 21.

April 2021

The Well-Planned Garden (ISBN 0-297-79362-4)
by Sue Phillips

For those of you inspired by our lovely spring weather to do something in the garden, but wondering where to start, this book may be of interest. The Well-Planned Garden can be used like a cookbook: choose a recipe, assemble the ingredients and follow the instructions. Whether you have sun or shade, wet or dry conditions, this comprehensive book provides designs and information that will help you build a beautiful garden from scratch.

Each chapter focuses on a garden style (eg. old-fashioned, cottage garden) and comes with four variations (eg. scented, traditional, shady, cut flowers). Colour illustrations of individual plants, plus each garden in bloom, aid in choosing a design. The ingredients lists cover plants, tools and other supplies such as compost and stakes. Scale plans are added for easy planting. The step-by-step instructions include how to plant and care for your new garden through the seasons and in subsequent years. With this kind of support, a lovely garden is possible this year even for novice gardeners.

March 2021

Pollination with Mason Bees: A Gardener's Guide to Managing Mason Bees for Fruit Production (ISBN 978-0-9689357-3-6)
by Dr. Margriet Dogterom

For those of you whose interests have been piqued by mason bees, this hands-on guidebook is perfect for the novice mason beekeeper. It's filled with practical information on how to house, feed and care for these native pollinators. Dr. Dogterom distills over 20 years of fieldwork and research experience with bees into this handy manual. She even worked for the BC Government as a bee inspector. In chapter 4, she considers nesting trays and their advantages compared with a host of other types of nests. To watch the mason bees develop and work right inside the nest, you can get a plexiglass observation tray. Preparing the nests for spring is covered in chapter 5, including where to best locate them in your yard (they like mud!). Placing them close to flowering fruit trees will increase pollination. Who knew that a mason bee's favourite colours are yellow, mauve, pink and blue?

Available to borrow from the HCP Library or to purchase from the gift shop.

February 2021

In a Unicorn's Garden – recreating the mystery and magic of medieval gardens (ISBN 978-1921208577)
by Judyth A. McLeod

A number of library visitors have recently been eager to find books about garden history. This new book, In a Unicorn's Garden, adds a unique perspective to that subject. Its wide scope covers about a thousand years (up to 1500) and ranges across Great Britain, Continental Europe and the Near East. The jacket describes it well:

Each chapter is based on a theme of significance in the medieval world and begins with an engaging historical overview and discussion of society, culture, religion and mythology. In a Unicorn's Garden includes extensive medieval plant lists, beautiful location photography, interviews with master gardeners, and visits to monastic and secular medieval-style gardens. The book also features individual medieval-inspired garden designs which can be recreated in the average suburban garden plot.

If your own garden in present-day Victoria is quiet, you might want to explore other times and places with In a Unicorn's Garden from the HCP Library.