Gardening Software is the Ideal Holiday Gift

Gardening Software is the Ideal Holiday Gift
Gardeners are easy to please when it comes to gifts. They like practical things from gardening books and supplies to gardening software. I’ve tried a number of the different software programs and CD’s for Windows, and highly recommend all of the following.

For cacti and succulent lovers, there are some great CD’s. You won’t go wrong with the Encyclopedia of Succulent Plants (Encyklopedie Sukulentnich Rostlin) by Tomas Kriz. This 2 CD set contains a wonderful multi-lingual program for Windows. To learn more about the requirements, and complete details on his CD's and his pdf book on succulents, please visit his website at

The featured languages include Czech, English, German, Spanish, French, and Swedish. It is very user-friendly, and is suitable for everyone. The plant families are listed alphabetically, and you can access the details for each. It includes color photos and drawings of over 700 species and 250 video files. Take a look at the introduction first, because you will need to recognize the symbols or icons that Kriz uses in presenting the cultural requirements, plant descriptions, and plant uses. For example, he indicates whether a plant is suitable as bonsai. In addition to the encyclopedia of plants, you can also view the video of plants and select wallpaper.

Sukulenty or Succulents is also available from Kriz. It features information and color photos of over 300 species. Like the Encyclopedia of Succulents, this presents the cultural information with icons, indicating ones that are suitable as bonsai, etc. This CD is bilingual, in Czech and English. The cover liner
contains a complete alphabetical listing of all the featured species.

Both of these CD’s are just great. People who are more serious about succulents would definitely want the 2-CD set, while the other would be suitable for beginners.

If you’ve ever visited the Desert Tropicals website (, you’re doubtless aware of the different CD-ROM’s they offer. If you’re looking for a suitable gift, the place to start is the Encyclopedia of Cacti and Succulents version 4.1 by Philippe Faucon. This searchable encyclopedia with lots of color photos does require Java Script. For more system requirements, please see the website.

As the title indicates, the encyclopedia of plants makes up the major part of this CD. It provides complete plant profiles for each one with descriptions, sun exposure, blooming habit, propagation, hardiness, and growing hints. The information on cold limit and minimum temperature are based on the author’s experience in the Phoenix area. In addition to the plant information, there is a general index, acknowledgements with links, and articles on succulents. Among the article are ones on propagation, the history of the agave, tips on designing a desert garden, interior designs with succulents, and information on temperature zones. You can do simple searches by clicking on the appropriate letter in the alphabet, or do more complete ones by plant name. A search for Cereus brought up all the different plants featuring cereus as part of the plants’ Latin name.

Other suitable titles from Desert Tropicals include the Encyclopedia of Landscape Plants for the Southwest.

The Colors of El Paso features photography by Gertrud and Ad Konings, biologists based in the El Paso area. Released by Ciclid Press (, it celebrates the exquisite beauty of nature in the El Paso region and its surroundings. The slide show can be viewed without the accompanying music, but if you choose that route you are really missing quite a treat. It is directed by Ida Steadman and performed by the Coronado High School Orchestras.

The CD devotes specific attention to each individual section of El Paso. First you get a broad overview of the entire section, and are then introduced to the native plants and wildlife one by one with close-up photos. Among the plants are numerous cacti and succulents, such as the button cactus, the fishhook cactus, the claret cup cactus, the eagle claw cactus, and the century plant. Some of the plants feature insects, such as pollinators. These are presented in close-up shots. The CD also features a wide selection of wallpapers.

All the CD’s I’ve discussed run from the CD ROM drive, so they preserve the hard drive space for other uses.

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