New Guide Books for Gardeners

thegardener's picture

Lyndon Penner’s recent books can benefit us all. Two are reviewed here: The Chinook Short Season Yard (2014), and Garden Design for the Short Season Yard (2015). Both have great pictures and many ideas to share. The Short Season Yard’s first 131 pages are easily read and informative – the other 104 pages illustrate a great variety of perennial plants, trees and shrubs. If you only read part of the book, look at the chapters on location and soils. A word of caution: the text was prepared before Calgary was recognized as being in plant hardiness zone 4. Local expert, and CBC broadcaster, Lyndon Penner entertains with anecdotes of his experiences while giving us the pros and cons of many plants from a very practical perspective, encouraging us to take chances. He believes that time in the garden should be spent happily and be rewarding. His knowledge is encyclopaedic.

Penner has strong opinions about many things (I was surprised by his criticisms of marketing practises by some in the nursery trade). I share his horror about the unnecessary pruning of the lower branches of spruce trees: you may not agree with all of his opinions, but for the new gardener, the book is essential reading. Follow many of his suggestions, including using PlantSkydd to reduce the threat to plants from jack rabbits. Buy this book.

His garden design book reviews much of the basic information about gardening, often with humour, before delving into garden design. The close up photographs of plants are clear and appealing. He provides criticism of several gardens, but because of the small size of the book, the photos of gardens are often hard to make out, and you have to know what plants look like before you can identify them: a photo 2” x 2.5” does not do justice to the content. I would borrow this from the library.