Gardening In The Northwest, by the editors of Sunset Magazine And Sunset Books
I have found it to be an immensely intriguing thing that the Northwest has so many regional guides on gardening. Admittedly, I probably would have noticed other regions had I been more into reading gardening books before moving here, but it is striking just how much gardening is pushed as an interest. I have regularly read and reviewed books by publishers on very niche aspects of gardening, including trying to maximize native bees, rooftop gardening, and so on. I have read books about container gardens and terrariums and water gardens and bonsai gardens and on and on. Growing up as I did in an area with plenty of plants, to be sure, I did not grow up noticing that gardens were a particularly popular phenomenon but as a resident of the Northwest, it is definitely something I have noticed. What is it that makes some areas far more focused on the beauty and practicality of gardens and not others? I’m not really sure, but if you are living in or from the Pacific Northwest and you like seeing lots of photographs of gorgeous gardens, this book is certainly an enjoyable read.
In terms of its contents, this book is a pretty simple one. Beginning with a short dedication, presumably to the readers of the magazine and the publisher’s other books, the author begins by writing about the Pacific Northwest and its climate zones and their complexity, including Alaska and British Columbia (although, alas, not the Yukon or Northwest territories). After this there is a great deal of time (certainly a plurality) spent on gardens, on various types of gardens that one can have and a look at different spaces in which gardens can be found. Obviously, there is a lot here to appreciate, and if the text does not give a great deal of information all of the time, the pictures certainly provide plenty of hints and suggestions about what sort of gardens one can imitate in one’s own efforts. After this comes a look at some of the plants that are either native or well suited to the Pacific Northwest. The author includes a discussion of various objects d’art that one can put in one’s garden, all of which makes for exciting reading as well, and the book is closed by some discussions that give a reader tips on where to look for more information.
A book like this is not really written for the words in it, at least for the most part. Rather, a book like this is designed to celebrate the visual beauty and complexity of the gardens of the Northwest, and it does its job very well. The book is certainly a gorgeous one that contains some information about some truly excellent gardens–including one garden I have spent some time in, the charming Abkhazi Gardens of Victoria, British Columbia where one can have a wonderful high tea before walking to see the impressive and small urban gardens on the grounds. And that is enough to make a book like this enjoyable. The publisher really has a lot of material about gardening in the area and readers of this book will likely be able to find many flowers or other plants they will want to add to their own gardens, along with ideas of what to plant and what sort of art would make their gardens even more beautiful. All of this is for the best, and it suggests that there really are a lot of gardens in the area well worth appreciating.