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Gardening in the Desert: A Guide to Plant Selection & Care

Gardening in the Desert: A Guide to Plant Selection & Care
Mary F. Irish
University of Arizona Press
Publication Date: 

paper, 175 p., $17.95

There are basically two kinds of gardening books: those that are primarily designed to be looked at, full of handsome color photographs; and those that are meant to be used, that tell us how to garden. This book is one of the latter — not a pretty picture book, but wonderfully full of practical information for anyone facing the daunting task of desert gardening. The author has been there and done that, and she knows her stuff. Her comments about weather, water and soils are of particular interest (would anyone want to deal with something in the soil called caliche? I think not!). There are chapters on the best trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, cacti, palms and agaves for desert conditions, along with information on how to grow and care for them. In addition to being an excellent gardening guide, this book is a pleasure to read. I found myself genuinely interested in many of these desert plants, even though I am not an expert on desert gardening. Should I find myself in Tucson tomorrow, this is the book I would want in hand!

— Jim Kemper