Abook has the potential to be a perfect gift, one that can become an oasis of sweet repose and tranquility in a busy life. Home gardeners appreciate books that inspire and guide. Here are some to consider.
A Year at Killara Farm, by Christine Allen (Harbour Publishing, 192 pages, hard cover, $29.95). This month-by-month series of reflections on the author's years at Killara Farm in Langley is a relaxing blend of observations and recipes, interspersed with a few crucial seasonal tasks, all enlivened with husband Michael Kluckner's charming watercolours of flowers, farm animals, structures and food.
In November, despite the often cold, wet weather, "there are tasks that need doing" as clematis vines "are trailing tired brown fingers over the fences. Siberian iris blades have flopped to the ground."
Allen admires the "jewel tones" that hydrangeas take on with cold weather, and notes that she has deliberately "left the old stalks of parsley to seed themselves. They don't look attractive, but you can never have too much parsley."
November recipes feature "setting sun soup" with carrots, onion, ginger and orange, leek-and-mushroom risotto and pear-and-almond tart.
In June, there are observations on Killara Farm's many antique roses, some paired with clematis, as well as delphiniums and a salad garden's abundance. Among the recipes are "glad green salad" and strawberry sorbet.
This newly published book's gift to the reader is a leisurely stroll through nature's seasonal rhythms and its fine bounty.
Beyond Beauty: Hunting the Wild Blue Poppy, by Bill Terry (TouchWood Editions, 192 pages, paperback with flaps, $24.95).
This book surprised me. It reads like an adventure novel.
When it arrived, I took it to my desk to leaf through briefly. Two hours later I reluctantly tore myself away from the fascinating tale, rich in local colour, culture, history, people and politics, stunning landscapes and spectacular plants. A perfect gift book.
Bill Terry, author of Blue Heaven: Encounters with the Blue Poppy, and his wife Rosemary travelled in 2010 with alpine plant hunters form Britain, Holland, Scotland and Australia over "the roof of the world" from the capital of Sichuan province in China to Lhasa in Tibet - 2,500 kilometres.
The story begins at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, where "it was easy to spot the plant hunters. ... Function over fashion was the rule." Straight from a long flight to Chengdu, their procession of eight Jeeps headed directly west to Leshan ("happy mountain"), home of the world's largest carved Buddha and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Serious plant hunting begins at Moxi (the book includes a route map) where an abundance of choice plants grows at the foot of a glacier. From a cable car they observe "cliffs draped with red rhododendrons and Clematis montana," and a forest of white rhododendrons. Not far from Kangding, on an icy mountain pass, the author and his wife found "a luscious, ruby-red, lady-slipper orchid (Cypripedium tibeticum) with a bursting balloon of a flower." The accompanying photograph is sumptuous. Here, too, they come upon the first of the author's beloved Asiatic poppies - Meconopsis henrica, "merely eight inches tall, flaunting a disproportionately large flower."
Three days before reaching Lhasa, none of the group had yet spotted a Tibetan blue poppy in the wild, until Rosemary caught a glimpse of blue in roadside shrubbery.
They found it - Bailey's poppy (Meconopsis baileyi). After that, they came upon a mass of the plants, with "a complementary scattering of smaller, deep-blue Chinese forget-me-not. ... A perfect garden."
Like a prospector striking a vein of gold, the author had reached the object of his desire and the pinnacle of this "adventure of a lifetime."
A Field Guide to Trees of the Pacific Northwest, by Phillipa Hudson (Harbour Publishing, eight-fold pamphlet, $7.95).
Here's a handy, durable, water-resistant guide to 26 native trees found between Alaska and Oregon.
The individual profiles feature photos of the tree's bark, leaves or needles, flowers, cones, seeds and fruit.
A line of facts describes these features and the tree's size, and adds a note on traditional uses or some unique fact.
For example, First Nations peoples call the western red cedar the "Tree of Life" because of its many uses, and arbutus is the only native broadleaf evergreen in Canada.
Hardy plant meeting.
The Victoria Hardy Plant Group will meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Knox Presbyterian Church, 2964 Richmond Rd. Wolfgang Hoefgen, a nurseryman with more than 50 years' experience, will demonstrate the basics of grafting.
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