Favorite Books--PBS TOW

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Tue, 10 Dec 2002 19:50:25 PST
Aren't there other book collectors in this group?

I second Ernie's choice of Jack Elliott's book. I love that book and find 
myself rereading it every year when the seed lists arrive. I too miss 
Jack's participation. He was so generous with his knowledge and experiences 
of success and failure and there was always the delight and love of flowers 
shinning through.

I have many books including a lot of the ones I summarized that had been 
mentioned on the PBS list in the past. But there are others not mentioned 
that I would like to add. I especially like the books that are written by 
people who actually grow the plants and are therefore sharing their 

Bulbs for New Zealand Gardeners & Collectors by Jack Hobbs and Terry Hatch 
is one such book. Terry told me he had grown all the plants he talked 
about. Although this book is out of print with the marvel of the Internet 
we have found copies in New Zealand to share with friends. This is a good 
book for California growers of bulbs since it concentrates on some of the 
bulbs that are more easily grown in areas that don't get so cold. It gives 
cultural information, describes genus and species, sometimes describing the 
species, sometimes telling about habitat and their luck with growing.

Another book written in 1936 but republished in 1990 is Adventures with 
Hardy Bulbs by Louise Beebe Wilder. This one doesn't have pictures, but it 
is really fun to read. Wilder lived in New York City so her experiences 
would be really different than Hobbs and Hatch.

My husband located a copy of Sima Eliovson's Bulbs for the Gardener in the 
Southern Hemisphere written in 1967. She is South African, but the bulbs 
she talks about are world wide. She doesn't describe as many species of 
each genus, but gives interesting cultural information. For example about 
Veltheimia which we discussed yesterday she says, "Plant the large bulbs at 
the end of summer or early in autumn in light soil containing plenty of 
leaf-mould. The neck of the bulb should be at soil level or slightly above 
it. Choose a shady situation under trees as the Forest Lily likes shade and 
does not resent competition from tree roots." and so on

I am very fond of Cyclamen and have appreciated Cyclamen by Christopher 

In addition to the Barbara Jeppe book my husband one Christmas presented me 
with a copy of Niel du Plessis & Graham Duncan's Bulbous Plants of Southern 
Africa. Like Arnold's well worn copy of Phillips and Rix for years I would 
look through both of those books and dream about growing some of the plants 
in them. This one covers the Amaryllidaceae and other families left out of 
the other. Often one species will be listed in one of the books and not the 
other even in the genus is in both books.

If you want to grow Lachenalia then you need Graham Duncan's The Lachenalia 

We've already mentioned some of Brian Mathew's other books, but I have 
found Growing Bulbs: The Complete Practical Guide to be another good 
general book. It includes a lot of information about South American bulbs 
not readily found but often doesn't have information about a particular 
species I want to know about. But still I often find the answer I am 
looking for and he shares his experience if he has it.

Finally back in those days before I became a bulb fanatic and just had a 
few general bulb books, I purchased an Ortho book called All About Bulbs. 
This revised edition was published in 1986 for $6.95. What made this book a 
gold mine for a beginner from California was that the editors had as 
consultants August De Hertogh, Stan Farwig, Vic Girard, and Wayne Roderick. 
The latter three had large collections of bulbs and were growing them in 
northern California. Many they had grown from seed and so this book told 
about bulbs and species never found before or since in such a book. It has 
been revised once again and now is back to tulips, hyacinths, narcissus and 
all the bulbs most people think of when they think of bulbs. These were 
featured too, but there were many others I had never heard of before. And 
what I loved was they had a map of the United States. If the map was 
colored in dark blue that meant the bulb could be naturalized with normal 
garden care in that area. If light blue, the bulb could be grown outdoors 
with some precautions. If uncolored the bulb would be difficult to grow as 
a perennial, but still maybe possible in bulb frames, greenhouses, or maybe 
as an annual. I don't know how accurate the maps were, but the maps for 
a  very large number of genera for my part of California were colored dark 
blue or light blue so there was a whole range of possibilities open to me.

Mary Sue
PBS List Administrator


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