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Gardening with a Wild Heart: Restoring California's Native Landscapes at Home

Gardening with a Wild Heart:  Restoring California's Native Landscapes at Home
Judith Larner Lowry.
Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press
Publication Date: 

paper, 252 p., $17.95

While the subtitle suggests that this book is a regional volume, Judith Lowry makes a strong case in the course of this book for restoration and gardening, applicable to many other locales. With a poetic yet impassioned and practical tone, Lowry describes her involvement with coastal scrub plants in restoring her property in Marin County north of San Francisco. As the proprietor of a wildland seed company, she consults and designs with native plants. Her cumulative experiences give her a deep understanding of the problems facing homeowners and municipalities attempting to grow natives rather than exotics.

The book covers specifics on techniques of wildflower seed gathering, storage, germination, soil preparation, planting and watering, all intermingled with accounts of the use of plants by Native Americans. Through anecdotal techniques, Ms. Lowry urges the read to think of native plants as connections to America's earlier civilizations. She specifically describes design principles that work well with native plants, letting plants dictate how your yard grows. She advises the reader to move slowly to a vision of commitment that will ultimately enrich the environment.

This book is a well-written, personal narrative that appeals to a range of interests in ecology, conservation and landscape design. It is filled with information that will persuade a reader, overlooking the specifics on California's plants and native plant societies, to indeed learn to garden with a wild heart.

— Adele Kleine, Master Gardener, Chicago Botanic Garden, and contributing writer to Chicagoland Gardening magazine.