The New Central Texas Gardener
paper, 204 p., $14.95
Cheryl Hazeltine and Barry Lovelace have written a wonderfully informative book for a region of the country with great gardening potential and challenges. As identified in the preface, this book is of a practical nature, and I found it to succeed in its intention to transmit to fellow gardeners a wealth of information gathered over a half century of gardening experience.
The authors' descriptions of the climate and soils define the gardening potential well. Throughout the book they identify the microclimates, both man-made and natural, that can extend the range of plants adapted to this region. Their emphasis and characterization of the soils are accurate. Their definition of "10 o'clock soils" is right on target.
The chapter "Tools of the Trade" may be a bit rudimentary for intermediate and advanced gardeners but will certainly be appreciated by beginning gardeners.
The section "Landscape Gardens: Planning, Selection, and Some Special Gardens" covers the basics, but not much more. It would have been helpful to include a list of no-cost or inexpensive resources, including classes at local community colleges or Texas A&M's Extension Service and Horticulture Department. With much of the population growth in this area originating outside this region, many new gardeners are not going to know intuitively many resources.
Chapters on lawns and lawn substitutes are useful. A new gardening ethic emphasizing landscape styles with low environmental impact represents the most important new idea to hit American gardens in years. Lawns are not only water-hungry, but they also require the consumption of petroleum fuels weekly to maintain them. Both water and petroleum are not as plentiful or inexpensive as they once were in Texas.
The lists of plants recommended by growth habits are good for the region. My personal bias is against some of the "ubiquitous" shrubs such as Ligustrum japonicum and Photinia fraseri. A note of caution concerning the perils of monoculture may have been appropriate when discussing these taxa.
On annuals, there are difficult cultivars that are of interest for advanced gardeners; those recommended in this book are appropriate for beginning and intermediate gardeners. I was disappointed by some misspellings of scientific names (Vinca rosea should be Catharanthus roseus while Petunis species should be Petunia species; purslane is listed as a genus).
Chapters on "Trouble in the Garden" and "Gardening Calendar for Central Texas" are excellent. This sort of information is not easy to come by; sources for the calendar often are botanic gardens or nurseries in the area.
Color photographs in the book are of a high quality. The line drawings are simple but capture the spirit of the plants represented.
Overall, this book will appeal to many gardeners in the region. Those gardeners working on the Edwards Plateau and along the Gulf Coast will find this book helpful, particularly if they garden in "gumbo" soils.
— Boyce Tankersley, Manager of Collections Documentation, Chicago Botanic Garden.
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