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For plant lovers and wannabes

I checked out six new or new-to-me plant books:

Herbal Houseplants by Susan Betz is a great book for anyone who dreams of growing their own herbs year-round indoors. With information on varieties that grow well indoors, growing conditions (including the best type of containers) and pruning guidance, there’s a lot of wisdom packed in this tiny, well-organized book.

The Modern Gardener by Sonja Patel Ellis is helping me to understand my houseplants better. Like Herbal Houseplants, this is a small, unintimidating volume that’s well-designed with beautiful photos. This book offers room-by-room advice, care level ratings and lifestyle recommendations to help you select the right plants.

What if you planted food crops once and enjoyed them year after year? That’s the promise of Growing Perennial Foods by Acadia Tucker.

Tucker is in the Northeast now but farmed in the Pacific Northwest for a while. Perennials are plants that come back year after year without replanting. Berries are high on my priority list as are bunching onions. I had a highly successful kale crop about three years ago and the plants keep going— even after being covered in snow!— and reseed themselves. Some plants are tender perennials meaning that under the right conditions, they’ll keep growing year after year. Peppers, for example, can grow for years in Arizona.

I have to say that I didn’t really understand how to “do” permaculture until I read The Regenerative Garden 80 Practical Projects for Creating a Self-sustaining Garden Ecosystem by Stephanie Rose. This is an easy-to-understand overview of permaculture or sustainable regenerative gardening practices—lots of fun gardening projects and solutions in this well-designed and nicely photographed book.

I love all these books for different reasons, but The Plant Rescuer by Sarah Gerrard-Jones really speaks to me and offers hope for anyone who has killed a plant or even multiple plants.

She says: “I hate to think of people who have failed to keep a plant alive simply giving up and closing the door on getting another. Killing a plant can tell you exactly what not to do next time. … What’s to be gained from labeling yourself a plant killer and refusing to buy another? Building a connection with nature, be it through outdoor or indoor gardening, has so many benefits for our well-being that it’s worth going through the disappointment of losing a few plants in order to reap the rewards when you understand how to keep them alive.”

Gardening is a process of learning what works for you, your space and your life. Gardening is one of the easiest ways to support your mental health and well-being. I can’t say it’s my cheapest hobby, but the plant rescuer opens up a world of plant rescue that is quite enticing. She also points out that someone’s easy plant is on many people’s “I’ve killed that plant” list. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You can also follow The Plant Rescuer on Instagram.

I learned about Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from one of the many gardening webinars I’ve attended over the past year. Arthur Kruckerberg is a legend! He was a botany professor at the University of Washington for nearly 40 years. He’s the go-to guy on native plants for our region. This is the book I needed to browse local plant sales! It has hundreds of color photos and helpful information about habitat.

I usually check books out of the library. If I start to feel a sense of ownership over my borrowed book, I know I need to get my own copy. It took me less than a day to feel that way about all five of these titles! I usually buy used books from ThriftBooks. (They sell new books, too.) Lately, I have had REALLY good luck at Target. They often put books on sale and they offer a wide range of books online. If you are lucky enough to live near Changing Hands or another independent bookstore that you love, go see what they have!