Books on North American Flowers

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Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27
Books on North American Flowers

Does anyone have any books they would specially recommend on the Flowers, Gardeners and Plant Collectors of North America? I have discovered people like Claude Barr and Lester Rowntree and have a few other titles garnered from AGS Book Sales (the ones that no-one wants anymore because they only have black and white illustrations! But they are still fascinating to read). Having been brought up on the famous names in British gardening it would be good to become a bit more cosmopolitan. I picked up 'California's Wild Gardens - A Living Legacy' at the Natural History Museum a couple of years ago and have become keen on learning more of this remarkable flora (particularly having 'discovered' so many species in seedlists like Ron Ratko's that I had never heard of). Nurserymen and gardeners often have a particular eye for plants over botanists and thus reading Janis Ruksans book on collecting and growing bulbs is so gripping, as are reminiscences of growers like Will Ingwersen and, more recently, Jim Jermyn (Edrom Nursery). Really good writing on plants is quite rare (probably most of it is already in the Quarterly!), but would be nice to encourage.

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Tim, it could take a long time for this list and I have to go back to the garden.  So - I'll start with "Land Above the Trees", by Ann Zwinger and Beatrice Willard.  No photos - it has line drawings that are superb.  It's really a book on the ecology of alpine tundra of the U.S.  I've reread it a number of times, which usually indicates staying power for any book.  Now back to the garden.

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

Anne, many thanks I shall look out for it. (PS: I am hoping we can persuade Cliff to come down and talk to our Group about his visits to American gardens. I've greatly enjoyed reading about them, and previously over the years, but we have only had talks on plants in the wild).

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

Anne, thank you so much for telling me of 'Land above the Trees'. I have only just started to read it but have found it both absorbing and beautifully written. The connection between place and plant is expressed in a way I have rarely read before but with a wonderful clarity.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Tim, I'm so glad your reaction to this wonderful book is the same as mine.  I think it is unique.  Back to the garden - more books to suggest when there's more time.

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Tim, a few more books you might enjoy.
PENSTEMONS,  by Robert Nold
HIGH and DRY (Gardening with cold-hardy dryland plants), by Robert Nold
LEWISIAS, by B.LeRoy Davidson
ALPINE PLANTS of NORTH AMERICA, by Graham Nicholls
JEWELLS of the PLAINS, by Claude Barr
INTERMOUNTAIN FLORA - Vol. 4 covers Scrophulaciae, Vol. 3B, the Fabaceae, etc.  These are a very worthwhile investment and can be obtained through
                          The New York Botanical Garden.  These volumes are my essential references.  Still impatiently awaiting the publication of the Volume on Eriogonum.

The Claude Barr book is out of print, I think, but searching for a book is a lot of fun. 

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

Anne, many thanks. I have Claude Barr's book and I think it more than anything else opened my eyes to the wonder of many American plants, largely because he sounds to have been such a remarkable man. People who collect, grow and sell plants as he did have always been heros of mine (our home grown example was Jim Archibald). I shall look out for some of the others and try to follow your example with some of those wonderful legumes and eriogonums. Graham Nicholls must be the finest grower in the UK, but your garden looks to have the magic of many of the Czech gardens, plants and landscape in great harmony. Lovely to see.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Thanks for the lovely compliment, Tim.  Jim Archibald visited the garden in, I believe, 1995.  It was still early days compared to its present size, but he was enthusiastic and I was thrilled!  I was growing a number of plants from his seeds, and of course he noticed all of them.  He gave a lecture a few days later at the NARGS Annual Meeting, which was hosted by the Berkshire Chapter.  I still recall a photo he showed of a marvelous astragalus from Iran.  He was a very special person.

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

I have just finished reading 'Land above the Trees' and enjoyed it greatly. It is quite rare to read about plants in a way that links them so closely to the environment they grow in, and written so beautifully! I shall be tempted to read more of Ann Zwinger's books.

I am quite interested to learn more of the Californian Flora. Our garden is pretty warm and dry and Mediterranean plants have always been a strong feature. Although we grow ceanothus, fremontodendron and a smattering of other Californians, this flora has never had a real presence in British gardens, compared to the Med., South Africa and even Australia. 'Alpine' gardeners, as ever, tend to be exceptions because they have such adventurous tastes in plants! I have found a few books recommended on the web; 'Designing California Native Gardens' by Glenn Keator & Alrie Middlebrook; 'Native Treasures' by M. Nevin Smith; and 'California Native Plants for the Garden' by Carol Bornstein, David Fross & Bart O'Brien. Does anyone have any other recommendations? I've toyed with the idea of the Jepson Manual but think that might have to come later!

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Kelaidis
Kelaidis's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-03

Tim: I looked through the various recommendations and don't seem to have noticed Jim Locklear's wonderful new Phlox book (which was reviewed recently in NARGS): it is an instant classic and superbly produced and written. Do make sure you get this!

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Panayoti, I would certainly add it to my list now.  It's a wonderful book - my only caveat is I think he said that Phlox pungens was not in cultivation.  It most definitely is - in my garden, and certainly Harvery Wrightsman's garden and a few others.  The book was really long overdue.  Next I'd like to see a book just on the glorious peas!

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