Gardening in the Pacific Northwest, by Paul Bonine and Amy Campion (2017)

Gardening in the Pacific Northwest, by Paul Bonine and Amy CampionTime for my annual end-of-the-year garden book! It’s the perfect time to start planning a better garden than ever! And this title is definitely finding a spot on my shelf. Regional expert Paul Bonine takes the lead on this project, offering a nuanced and informed understanding of gardening in the Pacific Northwest. The authors define the PNW area as encompassing Oregon and Washington on both sides of the Cascade Mountains, as well as southwestern British Columbia west of Hope, including the Sunshine Coast, Howe Sound, and Vancouver Island. While interior B.C. is not included, I feel confident in including my area within the huge swath called Eastern Washington and Oregon, east of the Cascades. Those mountains delineate the wet and mild coastal climates from the more extreme and drier climate of the higher elevation area on the eastern edge of the PNW. What we here in B.C. call the Okanagan – more sun, more snow, less rain. Different bugs and soil, with hotter summers and colder winters. But still the PNW. Having moved from the west to the east of the Cascades myself, I’m hyper-aware of these nuances, and really appreciate this close study of gardening zones in the region. I’ve said goodbye to the palms but oh my lilacs are spectacular! The book opens by emphasizing the need for gardeners to have a solid understanding of their climate. Bonine and Campion correctly define as weather over time, and then delve into the eight subclimates of the Pacific Northwest. They note that even within a subclimate there can be extremes, so a plant that thrives in one town might not survive in the next one over. This puts the onus on gardeners to be super-aware of the conditions that influence their own gardens. After that introduction we get into the meat of the book, more than 200 pages of perennials, vines, shrubs and trees for gardeners to consider. There are usually two entries to a page, each with a colour photo, description, and key characteristics such as size, shade/sun need, drought tolerance and hardiness, and suitability for the region’s subzones. I pored through and generated a list of about 50 perennials, vines, and shrubs that are drought-tolerant, some even deer-resistant, and will handle the extreme temperature changes and dry conditions of my subclimate. Some are familiar favourites and others are delightful new discoveries. Campion provides both common and botanical names, including subspecies and varieties when specifically recommended. The book wraps up with a chapter on garden design, including several pages on designing a water-wise garden that is beautiful, colourful, and robust. For patio gardeners, the section on container gardening is much too brief, sadly, though everyone will appreciate the ideas for adding artful touches to any garden. There is space allocated for an index though it was not included in my review copy. I did browse the 30 recommended titles for further study, and appreciate the metric conversion chart. However, I do wish the authors had instead incorporated metric into the text for those of us who prefer meters over feet, or simply don’t understand Fahrenheit very well! (What the hell is 45 degrees?) My thanks to Timber Press for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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