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Books for Nature Lovers

Whether through visits to parks and botanical gardens or spending the day in our gardens, nature makes a difference in our lives. Here are some books on nature themes.

For gardeners with an interest in native plants, there’s a wonderful gardening guide from Houghton Mifflin. “Native Ferns Moss and Grasses” is by William Cullina. This is the author’s third title on native plants. From this title readers can learn everything they need to know about identifying, growing, and propagating these plants. The author doesn’t advocate collecting plants from the wild except as part of a plant rescue mission by a native plant society. This is lushly illustrated with color photos and maps.

This reader-friendly book devotes sections to each of the three plant groups—ferns, mosses, and grass-like species.

In the introduction, the author discusses the issue of plant hardiness and the impending impact of global warming on plant life. This explains the benefits of landscaping with native plants and the issue of invasives.

This has all the gardening basics that gardeners need to know, including soil pH, soil fertility, sun vs. shade, and so on. Throughout the book are boxes with additional helpful information.

The section on propagation is very thorough. This has a handy table with details for each plant.

For each plant group, this has an in-depth introduction along with easy to follow descriptions, ID tips, and gardening information. A helpful glossary of terms explains the technical words used in the descriptions.

There is also an encyclopedia of plants for each of the three groups. The encyclopedia plant entries are very comprehensive. These are arranged alphabetically by Latin name. These give the family name, Latin names and synonyms, common names, hardiness zone, exposure, soil requirements, native range and habitats, size, detailed plant descriptions, and gardening tips.

The appendix has all sorts of helpful information, including lists of organizations. There are lists of plants for different growing conditions and landscape uses.

“A Field Guide to the Plants and Animals of the Middle Rio Grande Bosque” by Jean-Luc E. Cartron et al was published by the University of New Mexico Press in association with the Museum of Southwestern Biology and the Drylands Institute. This invaluable, flexbound guide covers 15 parks and reserves in the area. It features hundreds of color photos and maps. All in all, it features over 700 species of plants and animals.

The introduction gives the contact information and details for each of the parks and reserves. This also provides a thorough background and history of the area. It explains the effects human activity have played, and the endangered status of the various ecosystems. This discusses each of the different habitats of the area and what can be found there.

This has separate encyclopedias for the plants and animals. For the plants, this discusses their natural history, pollination, and anatomy. There are color photos of the plants as well as sketches showing all the different parts of the plant, leaf shapes, flower parts, and so on. There is also a glossary of plant terms. The vascular plants are arranged alphabetically by Latin name. The plant profiles give the plant names, family name, distribution, natural history, and the time of year it is found.

For the animals, this gives information on breeding, descriptions, natural history, and distribution. There is also a glossary of terms used in describing the animals.

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