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Christmas Garden Book Reviews 2009

With holiday shopping in full swing, here are some recommended books for those gardeners on your holiday shopping list.

The 2010 Baer’s Agricultural Almanac and Gardener’s Guide is a must-have. This American classic is published by John Baer’s Sons. Keep extra copies on hand for last-minute gifts. The best gift of all is a five-year subscription. Gerald S. Lestz edited this for over 60 years. This will be his last edition for he passed away in September 2009 at the age of 95. His daughter, who has worked alongside Lestz is the new editor.

From cover to cover, the almanac is filled with interesting articles on a wide array of subjects. Topics range from old fashioned recipes for comfort food to memorable moments in our nation’s history and anniversaries. There’s a whole section devoted to lore with month-by-month accounts. These highlight specific plants as well as gardening history, such as the first lawn mower.

One chart is devoted to significant days and all the holidays for the year. Throughout the almanac are all sorts of articles that will be of interest. The ones on flowers and veggies include carrots, celosia, impatiens, parsley. There are articles on community gardeners, composting, and other gardening subjects. As always, this edition is beautifully illustrated with historical photos as well as drawings and line art. There are all sorts of helpful charts for gardeners, such as vegetable and seed planting times for different areas of the country. There is also a procrastinator’s planting guide. Other features include a fishing calendar, horoscopes, gardening by the moon and the signs of the zodiac. There are tables for each month showing the phases of the moon and the weather predictions.

“Seeds of Wealth-Four Plants That Made Men Rich” by Henry Hobhouse was released by Shoemaker and Hoard/Avalon. This is part of a remarkable series of history titles. All of these titles have become classics. This volume is beautifully written and is based on extensive research. It features extensive quotes from historical sources.

This particular volume will appeal to anyone with an interest in plant history. Hobhouse selected these four species because they changed the world. The plants include the wine grape, which has been in cultivation for thousands of years. The others include tobacco and rubber, which were both native to the New World.

This title devotes a chapter to each plant with particular emphasis on its economic effects throughout history. Hobhouse traces the origins and discovery of each plant, and explains how each species became a power house for economic activity. He explains the care that was required during cultivation, the processing that was required and the marketing. The profile of each plant extends to the present time.

“Capturing Nature’s Beauty-Three Centuries of French Landscapes” by Edouard Kopp was released by Getty Publications. It has lush color photos of over 40 French landscapes, which will have special appeal for gardeners. This provides a history and background of French landscapes from the beginning in the 1600’s through its peak some three hundred years later.

This title is especially suitable for nature lovers and gardeners. For each plate, the author provides a history of the work and the artist as well as complete details on when and where the drawing was done, its size, and the techniques that were used. All of this information greatly expands one’s enjoyment and appreciation of the work. In addition, this title provides an in-depth history of French landscapes.

In the introduction the author compares the artists and the techniques they used. A number of these art works depict gardening and nature scenes. Some of the profiled works include ‘An Apple Harvest’ by Jacques Stella, ‘The Duchesse de Chaulnes as a Gardener in an Allee’ by Carmontelle and ‘Landscape with a Bare Tree and a Plowman' by Leon Bonvin.’

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