There’s a new Sunset Western Garden Book out and I had to buy it. Sunset Western Garden Books and I go way back. When I was young I used to leaf through my mother’s old “First Edition” 1954 publication. I knew nothing about gardening, but in the sandy soils of Orange County, you could put a sunflower seed in the ground and grow a 10-foot behemoth.
Of the newer Sunset Western Garden Books in my library, the 2001 seventh edition was my bible during Master Gardener training. I didn’t think the 2007 edition had enough new material, so I passed on that one. But what gardener can resist the newly released ninth edition?
Here’s my rationale for buying it. This edition is the first to feature plant photos exclusively. Not that I didn’t enjoy the illustrations of the older versions, but a color photo is irresistible. Color is all-important in gardening. The plant encyclopedia of the new 2012 edition has been updated and includes 1,000 more entries. There is a “Gardening, Start to Finish” section for beginning gardeners. Information is based on steps in the creation of a garden rather than in alphabetical order; planning comes first, then planting, growing, and dealing with problems. I like that. There’s a guide for growing vegetables called “What Edibles to Plant When”.
I like the green “tip” boxes included in the plant encyclopedia. They cover subjects entitled “Paw Power”, information on using kangaroo paws in the landscape. They’re entertaining and informational. There is a digital component to the New Sunset Western Garden Book. You get the free mobile edition of the “Plant Finder” for your smartphone. There’s a companion online Plant Finder that lists plants as you browse by color, height, spread and special needs. There is no ebook edition. You can go to the Sunset web site for a video on a topic when you see the little camera icon at the bottom of a page. I’ll admit, sometimes a video is worth a thousand words.
The Sunset Western Garden Book has improved over the years, but it’s not perfect. For example, why don’t they include the pronunciation of the plant under the titles of the entries in the Plant Encyclopedia rather than in a separate section in the back of the book? Then there are the thin pages that are already rippling in our damp climate.
Like many of my gardening books, The New Sunset Western Garden Book is practical, inspirational and informational. My list of gardening “things to do” grows longer with each page. On days I can’t get the energy up to “dig and plant”, I’ll just sit with my new book and dream. I really don’t need another garden book but this one is hard to resist.