Number one on my list is Reader's Digest's "Success With House Plants". I came across this one by accident at the library one winter. It is almost an antique I suppose, having been printed in 1979. I brought it home in 2003 and after reading only a few pages I knew I could never part with it. The only problem was the two week limit enforced by the library. Two weeks was not enough time! There was no way I was returning this treasure in two weeks. I did everything I possibly could, even reverting to my school days homework excuses. I could tell it wasn't a popular book by the library dates stamped in the back of the book, it hadn't been taken out for years before I found it. They called...I told them to re-book it for another two weeks. They called again and I tried to re-book it again but they told me I couldn't. Ackkk!! I crossed my fingers and told them I lost it.
I was a familiar face at this library. It was a small town library, and the librarian lived in the same village I did. She would often stop at my house on her way home and drop off books that she knew I'd love to read. One day, a year or so after my book-napping, I took some books back and tried to take out another arm load of new ones and they told me I couldn't. Their new computerized system wouldn't allow me to as long as I had an outstanding overdue book. I was speechless. This couldn't be happening to me. I HAD to have some reading materieal and yet there was no way I was parting with my treasure of a house plant book. You see, this was bfore I owned a computer. I read a book every other day, it was all my small library could do to keep up with me. I begged and pleaded but there was nothing she could do...my little library was now in the age of computerization. She couldn't over-ride it. She did however suggest I haunt some used bookstores in the hope of finding my "lost" book and replacing it. So I did. And I did, I found a used copy about a week later for $5.00 and gave the library back theirs.
What made this book so special you ask? Well, it had every plant I owned and then some. It has chapters on Using Plants Indoors, Caring For House Plants and an A to Z Guide to House Plants. I can look up a plant and it gives me photos of the plant, recommended varieties of that plant along with care guidelines such as light, temperature, watering, feeding, repotting, propagation and special points to keep in mind. Almost 500 pages of glorious information!! I highly recommend this book.
My second favourite book came to me by way of a television program. One of my most watched programs was Canadian Gardening; occasionally they would include a book review. They reviewed "The House Plant Expert" by Dr. D. G. Hessayon. It was originally published in 1960 and was being re-published. The author has a whole series of "Expert" books. After such a glowing review I had to see for myself. I went on a hunt for this book. No luck. I had my aunt in Toronto search for it. No luck. Finally I went to my local bookstore and had them special-order it for me; it had become an obsession.
This is a newer, glossier book than the one I spoke of above. Not quite as indepth but still wonderful. A full colour photo of the plant with a description and the usual light, water, temperature requirements. I could spend hours just looking at the photos. This book has caused me to add many plants to my wish list that I would never otherwise have known about.
While they are both equally good house plant books, "Successful House Plants" hold the lead on account of its full page of information on each plant. The photos are drawn depictions of the plants. The "House Plant Expert"--while the photos are glossy--generally describes three plants per page side; therefore the information is minimal although useful.
Now that I have a computer and have discovered the wonders of the world wide web I rarely read informational books. After all, I have a world of libraries at my finger tips. I do still have these two books, and always will, sometimes you just can't beat the feel of paper between your finger tips.
Theme Week Alert! This article is one of a group focusing on a Garden and Nature Book Theme Week. Look for other articles March 17 to 23.
My thanks to Marna Towne for making my thumbnail photo a part of Theme Week.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on March 24, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previousy published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)