good book s for newly introduced plants

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

there are several fine mail order catalogs that do cost, but are worth it sometimes for the identification alone. i don't order anything as a rule,but i keep the catalogs for reference. one is Logee's, another is Stoke's Tropicals. just thought i would pass that along. debi

Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

That's a good tip!

I'm trying to write a gardening book. I have my own little rant about my dissatisfactions with all the gardening books I own already. I think the solution is to resort to writing my own. I'd be interested to see what my potential market is like, in terms of what people want in a gardening book.

What bugs you about your gardening books? What do you wish you could find in them that you never seem to be able to find? What plants can you hardly ever find any information on?

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

dogzilla, im going to have to think about my answer to this one. i think i have a long list of "ofgs, am i ever going to find what i'm looking for". i sometimes think i could write a florida book better than what i find and i know nothing compared to all of these fine folk on daves. i will tell you that i always seem to come back to the same select few books even tho i have about 50. now that we've moved from the keys to central fla. alot of my tropical books arent going to cut it anymore, but i love them for ids. i will get back to this thread today! debi

Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

Thanks debi. Tell me also, what do you like about the books that you keep coming back to? (I have a couple for which I do the same.)

High Springs, FL(Zone 8b)

Trackinsand, you're right about catalogs being good references! The ones I've gotten from Wayside Gardens have a lot of info as well. Now that I think about it, I've not received a catalog from them in a couple of years - of course I haven't ordered anything in a very long time, either!

Diane, you definitely need to make your idea a reality! Let me know if you need a contributing photographer....; ) I like plant books with LOTS of pictures. Something I'd like to see are good, clear photos of young plants and seedlings. Many plants have different leaf shapes after they mature, and often it's hard to tell if you're looking at a weed or a baby.

Another thing that would be helpful is a format (loose-leaf binder, maybe?) that allows for new or updated information to be added. Instead of needing a new edition every few years, the original could just be amended. (This is commonly done with publications containing regulations, and [I think] many technical manuals.)

This message was edited Jul 7, 2005 10:41 AM

Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

That's great feedback and yes, I probably could use help in collecting photos.

Baby steps though: first, I need to define the focus of this unwritten book.

I love the idea about loose-leaf binder... I was thinking about spiral-bound, so it will lay flat as you're trying to ID a plant.

One thing I hate about many of my garden books are black and white line drawings, with no scale. Like I can really tell the difference between wild strawberry and poison ivy with a non-color line drawing where the drawing of the leaves are exactly the same size and the color of stems is merely described with words. Gah! "Reddish" means different things to different people, depending on perception, light and whether the reader is color-blind or not.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

ok, i'm back! had a doc appt. at 11:00-at 12:30 i did something i've never done before-i walked out. the receptionist was flabbergasted. i said," you know, i have things to do today". there was still 2 people ahead of me in other rooms. c'mon. so i came home, grabbed the DH and went on a plant and rubber mulch run to Home Depot. i feel soooo much better now. had coffee and a cig and here's my list of all time favorite books that i can't do without.

1. Betrocks Reference Guide to Florida Landscape Plants (Broschat&Meerow)
there is really nothing i don't like about this book

2. Florida Landscape Plants (Watkins)
the old reliable/i have an older edition/line drawings only/its' big drawback

3. Florida Gardening (DeFreitas)
another old reliable-too much vegi and fruit stuff for me-but i do use it.

4. The Tropical Look, An Encyclopedia of Dramatic Landscape Plants (Riffle)
love the way this guy writes, tons of unusual plants, not enough pictures tho

5. Trees and Shrubs for Temperate Climates (Courtwright)
a rather skinny large size paperback chock full of plants

6. American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants
a 2 hander, a picture of almost every genus and species in the US

7. Sunset Garden Pests and Diseases
good old sunset books-you cant beat this one!

8. Gardening in the Tropics (Holttum and Enoch)
laid out really bad, description on one page, picture several pages later, but i have
found plants in it that i looked for years to id.

i have a lot of specialty books, palms, broms, etc. but for all around every day use i have used these more than any other. i'm still working on my list of gripes and loves about plant books in be continued-gotta go plant. heres a pic of my old house in the keys. debi (hard to leave? you better believe it!)

Thumbnail by trackinsand
Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

Beautiful! Gotta love the growing season in the Keys.

Thought I'd share a funny story about waiting for the doctor appointment: Before I knew I had asthma, I was in the middle of a severe asthma attack but did not know it. I thought I had bronchitis or something. I waited an hour and a half like you did, but since I couldn't breathe, I didn't want to walk out, like you did. So I called the receptionist on my cell phone from the waiting room. "Um. I'm still sitting out here. Can't breathe. Did y'all forget about me?"

She actually hung up on me, and I promptly announced this news to everyone else in the waiting room. Now they had a room full of angry patients who had lost their patience... And I got in to see the doc about five minutes later.

I love that story.

Fort Pierce, FL(Zone 10a)

I love that story too!! I couldn't get the nurse to come to my mother's room in the hospital, so I called the nurses station on the phone. I got immediate attention too! LOL Of course I told them my next call was going to be to the hospital manager.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

o that's a good one! i love it too! i think the days of docs taking up your whole day are about over. to get back on the subject, one thing i would like is a couple of lines on the page where you could make a note or put in the date you bought it etc. i guess the thing i always want is pictures, pictures, and more pictures (when i'm trying to id something, but i also would like first hand knowledge of the plant. i am so sick of "takes full sun". i feel bad for all of the people (even at the chain nurseries ie home depot) that take these plants home and plop them down in full summer florida sun and pay good money-you know the majority of those plants die. i did it myself when i first came to florida. i would end up buying a bigger plant to shade the first, then a bigger one to shade that one!!! another thing i dont like is you look in the back to see if a plant is listed and there are about 10 different page numbers. you go back and forth to each one only to find that the plant really isnt even in there, they just mention it, or the one pic they do have is of a landscape and youre trying to figure out which one is the one youre after. o yeah, and a big picture of a flower, but no idea what the leaf looks like or the shape or size. i like normal, down to earth talk, but accurate of course, and maybe a little growing tip about a particular plant. im sure i will think of more-give me time. heres an excerpt i would like to see in a book ................and then she sunk down (easily, so as not to further aggravate her old knees) into the soil, the dirt, the earth she loved and picked up her battered old claw, dug in, and was ,at once , transformed and free. debi

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

It was a dark and stormy Iris, its temperment not suited to any civilized garden.

Hey, DogZ. The book idea sounds great! I also have the urge to write about plants, but I think I'd rather start with a newspaper column format with the freedom to ramble on about whatever plant or garden topic catches my attention on a month-to-month basis. I don't subscribe to our own local Times-Union newspaper (it just makes me angry due to obvious political slant) so I don't know what the local mainstream paper here has for a gardening section. We have a local fledgling G/L/B/T paper that seems to be aching for local writers so that they can print something other than AP wire dispatches and bar ads, so I'm thinking that may be my venue to wax poetic about my primroses.

One thing I would like to have in a garden book is an organization similar to a field guide, i.e., plants grouped by flower shape or color or some other distinquishing characteristic. That helps a lot when trying to identify plants, and I think the primary market for gardening books may be sales to new gardeners looking for basic information. A grouping of plants by flower color could could also help in landscape design in choosing plants that would work well together visually. Also, most of us see a plant we want, then try to figure out what it is (if it isn't tagged) so that we can get more information about it. It is difficult, as you mentioned, to identify plants from most gardening books because you have to know the name in order to find out information about the plant and you often don't know the name.

I am guessing that one of your decisions to be made for your book would be whether to gear it toward the newcomer, or to the experienced gardener seeking additional information or personal anecdotes (much like our discussions here on DG), or to try to hit somewhere in the middle of those two polarities.

You may want to further refine your topic to just gardening in North West Florida.. I've thought about keeping notes on my plants, what grows and what doesn't and what blooms at what time of year, and organizing all that into some sort of booklet (when I'm about 95 years old) of "Gardening in Northeast Florida." Limiting your book to a certain geographical region would allow all sorts of possibilities for creating lists of plants to be grown, grown together, and how to group plants for year round color, etc. Our climates in different regions in Florida are so different that I think there is the opportunity to be very specific in the intended audience for your book.

"Gardening with Hurricanes in Mind," might be a best-seller in Florida if this storm season continues as it has started out!

I do hope you will carry through with your idea! I wrote a full-length play once, but it took me about 20 years, off and on, to get it to a point that I could call "finished," and I still occasionally think about words or phrases to change here and there. So maybe writing a book will be like having a garden: a lifetime of work, but worth it!


mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

o, i like that dark and stormy iris! i agree jax, i have one or two books that are color-keyed and leaf shape keyed, it makes it soooo much easier! we have to wait for dogzilla to reply-she's probubly cringing as we speak. i will feel very left out, however, if she doesnt include central florida!!!

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 8b)

Yep, Tracks, I hope we haven't inundated DogZ with so many suggestions that she is regretting ever mentioning her idea. Sometimes when I am incubating a project, I like to keep it to myself and may resent it if others chime in with "this is what you should do" if I mention my plans. But sometimes the encouragement of others is just what I need to get moving toward manifesting the product (as in the recent case of my idea of making a "Zen" bell from an empty propane tank -- a plan I had for several years but never got around to doing it until I mentioned it in response to a "what can I do with an old propane tank" in a DG thread, and the DGers descended upon my "Zen" bell plan and said, "Do it now, and show us how!" So, I hope, DogZ, that we can nudge you in that same manner.

By the way, Trackin, in response to your original suggestion here, I save just about every garden catalog I get. I hope someday to put together my own scrapbook that would be an inventory of all my garden plants with pictures and descriptions of the plants. The catalog photos would make the scrapbook job a lot easier than photographing plants and printing out pix (I love alliteration!)

I also clip and save photos and descriptions of plants from the catalogs and from DG web pages and add them to my "wish list." It helps curtail the disappointment that I can't afford to buy every plant on impulse the moment I see it (though my credit card monthly statements would indicate otherwise!)


Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

You guys are so cute... ;>)

I should have mentioned that I intend to focus specifically on Zone 8 plants, but I also plan to include plants in a range from zones 6-10. This serves a couple purposes: increases the target market for people who would be interested, truthfully addresses all of the plants in my yard. I'm a zone-pusher: I have a green house and will try just about anything. I will probably include a section on greenhouse/indoor gardening as well as containers. There will probably be more herbs/medicinal plants than anything, but I would like to increase my knowledge base about tropicals.

My biggest complaint about medicinal plants/herb books is this. They'll say something like, "Valerian is good for insomnia." What I want to know is: how much valerian, which parts of the plant should I use, and what if valerian tea tastes horrible and I want to blend it with lemon verbena for flavor? What properties does the lemon verbena have that would interfere with or enhance the effect of the valerian? I've managed to get some of this type of information from the herbs forum here, but mostly those threads are about growing and propagating tips, or culinary uses (a whole other section in my head). I find it very difficult to find info this specific in books, on web sites or even in herbal medicine workshops. Mostly, I've learned through trial-and-error and because some plants can be toxic or even deadly at certain doses or if not prepared properly, I avoid testing them on my friends. ;>) (My friends appreciate that, as you can imagine!)

The approach I have in my head is to organize by plant. I would include field-guide types of info, but my real intention is to include the uses (medicinal especially) for plants and care-and-maintenance information. For example, I could find a lot of information about bananas, but none of the books really say, "in certain zones, you could bring these inside to overwinter" or "you can just mulch heavily over the winter; you don't need to bring inside." Propagation information should be there as well -- some methods work better for specific plants than others.

I don't think I want to target beginners as my audience because I think there's already so much out there for beginners. And yes, Jeremy, I think this is one of those life time masterpiece kind of projects. Don't look for my book on the shelves at Barnes and Noble any time soon. Because only half the battle is writing it. The hard part is getting it published... and that's a whole other thread!

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

amen to that. one of these days we can say we knew you when.

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