For The Answer
Christmas Gifts – Books
If you are putting together your Holiday gift list and have one or more gardeners for whom to select a gift, consider gardening books. There are some excellent ones that are useful for local conditions. South Texas is a great place to garden once you know the tricks.
For a general guide, I recommend two books. The Southern Living Gardening Book has accounts of most of the plants we can use in the area and offers the basic cultural practices. Neil Sperry’s Complete Guide to Texas Gardening has better photos than the Southern Living edition and does a more localized version of the lawn care, weed control and other cultural practices.
The really exciting books are those that deal with more specific gardening topics. Two of my favorites are Perennial Garden Color by Bill Welch and Native Texas Plants by Andy and Sally Wasowski. Dr. Bill Welch is a professor at Texas A & M, well known for his ornamental horticulture expertise. His book Perennial Garden Color does a great job of describing the use of antique roses, naturalizing bulbs and using other permanent color plants. In South Texas we can have 12 months of color without using excessive water. Dr. Welch’s book is an important resource in accomplishing that task. The book also has good photos and interesting text.
Native Texas Plants is also an essential resource for successful low water gardening in South Texas. The Wasowskis do an excellent job of presenting an album of the many native plants that can contribute to a successful landscape. It works for an ID guide and the text is very informative.
Many gardeners are enthusiastic about birds and butterflies. The interests coincide very well. For a gardener interested in creating a landscape that is very attractive to birds, Attracting Birds to Southern Gardens is an outstanding choice. The authors Thomas Pope, Neil Odenwald, and Charles Jr. Fryling have produced a worthy addition for every library. The photos are excellent and the text is informative. What I like best about the book is that they include the new plant entries in the South Texas market. Plants such as firebush, firespike and esperanza are essential to attracting a maximum number and variety of hummingbirds.
For butterfly lovers, Geyata Ajilvsqi’s Butterfly Gardening for the South is a good resource and excellent gift. My favorite butterfly identification guide is Butterflies of North America by Ken Kaufman and Jim Brock. It is the guide that I keep with me at all times as I sit at Milberger’s doing the “Gardening South Texas” radio show. It is the easiest for me to use to identify the many butterflies that utilize the blooms in front of the studio.
Other books to consider are Texas Trees by Patty Leslie and Paul Cox, Roses in the Southern Garden by G. Michael Schoup, Vegetable Gardening in the South by Sam Cotner, Texas Insects by Bastian Grees and John Jackman, Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country by Marshall Enquist, Outwitting Deer by Bill Adler, and Gardening in Difficult Soils by Scott Ogden.
Most of the books are available at your favorite nursery. They can also be purchased at area bookstores, organic supply stores, bird feeding stores, and on the internet. The Garden Gate Gift Shop (829-1227) at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, and the Schultze House Cottage Garden & Gift Shop (229-9161 or 467-6575) in HemisFair Park are also fun places to shop for books and other horticultural-related gifts. For a nice stocking stuffer for your gardener, visit the website plantsanswers.com and sign up for the newsletter that includes articles by Dr. Jerry Parsons, myself, and other area writers. Another great stocking stuffer is the booklet Xeriscape: A How-to Guide to Converting a Traditional Landscape Using a Xeriscape Approach. It is $5 at area nurseries or send $8 (covers postage) to Garden Volunteers of South Texas, 6798 Culebra, San Antonio, TX 78238-4700. The guide has the best plant list available for the San Antonio area.