Wednesday, August 24, 2016

BOOKS: Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science - Practical Application

Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science - Practical Application
Author:  Linda Chalker-Scott
Ring-bound: 273 pages
Publisher: GFG Publishing Inc. (2009)
ISBN-10: 1929509049
ISBN-13: 978-1929509041

By Lorraine Foley, November 11, 2013

Horticulturist and plant scientist Dr Linda Chalker-Scott's Sustainable Landscapes & Gardens is an insightful and no-nonsense approach to sustainable gardening. It is a collection of integrated text books with contributions from 21 experts from horticulture and academia. Now let's not assume that this is a dry scientific tome, in fact it achieves its goal of delivering scientific text in a palatable way to suit all garden lovers who hunger for more research.

The book is divided into five chapters that are themselves individual booklets contained in a binder. This allows for the relevant chapter to be removed as needed as opposed to hauling around a large reference book. Now this appeals to my logical nature. Well, we gardeners are a practical bunch after all! There are also additional supplementary chapters that can be purchased from the author's website.

The author generously shares her vast knowledge of horticulture in an engaging way. Her style is friendly yet never light weight; scientific research is the back bone to this book. From the start we are guided through the difference between horticultural fact and myth, enabling us to decipher marketing text and peer reviewed findings. Clarity about the merits of scientific research is eloquently set out with a rundown of creating a scientific experiment, discerning reliable sources and discussing the meaning of sustainability. She has given the reader the tools to critically examine the science of gardening, and all that in just chapter one!

Planting, Taking the Plunge guides the reader through the sometimes confusing process of purchasing healthy plants, all delivered with wonderful practical insight. This chapter also covers the art of tree planting however with a twist! This is where the conventional wisdom of horticulture is usurped by pure scientific research. Peer reviewed findings indicate that woody perennials thrive when planted as bare root. Linda pulls no punches as she advices the reader to wash away all the compost from the roots of a container tree and give the cleaned roots a really good old tussle, and even a root prune to stimulate new growth. These roots are tough, they can take it and the research supports this claim!
Another unusual departure in tree planting is the objection to the use of organic soil amelioration. In fact a tree planted with regular native soil will establish and thrive long term in comparison to those with organic material included in the back fill. In a step by step guide, the reader is led through the process of tree planting with clear instruction. This approach illustrates the best practice for healthy sustainable planting.

Interior chapters present the finer points of soil type, pesticides and proper usage and nutrient management. The subject of nutrient excess and the impact on the environment underpins the ethos of the book. The relevance of relying on indicator plants to discern nutrient levels as revealed in the lush green foliage of healthy plants. Let the plants tell us what they need and not apply fertilizers adroitly is the principle message. In fact the main theme of the book is embedded in common sense and having the confidence to rely on observation of plant health. This is clearly illustrated in "What's Wrong With My Plant?" chapter, a combination of examples and colour images create an important reference for all gardeners.

Dr Linda Chalker-Scott's gift is to present plant science and the often maligned term "sustainability" as practical and understandable to everyone. If you are a hobby gardener or horticulturist who cares about how things work and desire to work sustainably, then this book is for you. So in keeping with the spirit of this book, let's get our hands dirty!

Table of Contents:

Ch. 1 - Introduction - Why You Need This Book
Ch. 2 - Scientific Literacy - Becoming a Citizen Scientist
Ch. 3 - Sustainability - Application in Landscapes & Gardens
Ch. 4 - Basic Plant Science - Structures & Functions
Ch. 5 - Identifying Plants - Using Keys & Keen Observation
Ch. 6 - Urban Soil - Management
Ch. 7 - The Lay of the Land - Site Analysis & Soil Preparation
Ch. 8 - Plant Choices - Natives or Introductions?
Ch. 9 - Invasive Ornamentals - When Good Plants Go Bad
Ch. 10 - Plant Propagation - Techniques & Nurseries
Ch. 11 - Selecting Quality Plants - Better Long-Term Value & Satisfaction
Ch. 12 - Installation and Aftercare - Permanent Landscapes
Ch. 13 - Plant Nutrition - Mineral Function & Fertilizer Application
Ch. 14 - Water-Wise Landscaping - Protecting Resources & Your Wallet
Ch. 15 - Sustainable Pruning - Woody Landscape Plants
Ch. 16 - Using IPM in Yardscapes - Responsible Pest Management
Ch. 17 - Diagnosing Plant Stress - Living & Nonliving Causes
Ch. 18 - Understanding Pesticides - To Spray or Not to Spray
Ch. 19 - Plant Diseases - Diagnosis & Treatment
Ch. 20 - Basic Entomology - Anatomy, Development & Identification
Ch. 21 - Managing Vertebrates - In the Garden & Landscape
Ch. 22 - Weeds - Managing "Out of Place" Plants

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