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BOOK REVIEW: Farewell and Good Gardening to All

By Caroline McCullagh.

I’ve just completed 15 years of writing book reviews for the San Diego Horticultural Society. It’s time for me to move on to other projects. My first review, in July 2002, was of Planting Garden Troughs by Joyce Fingerut and Rex Murfitt. I loved it. In August, I reviewed The Looking Glass Garden by Peter Thompson. I hated it. After that, my editor, Susi Torre-Bueno, turned me loose to choose my own books for review. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve learned a lot about both gardening and writing in the process.

I debated about what to include in this last review. I thought it might be useful to remind you of the fine books written by former or current society members.

The only one of the following that I got to review is Under the Spell of Succulents by Jeff Moore. I wrote, “I don’t think it’s possible to write a bad book about succulents. That being said, and making allowance for my bias, Under the Spell of Succulents (2014) is a very good book, indeed.” Moore’s second book, Aloes and Agaves in Cultivation appeared in 2016.

Debra Lee Baldwin, who wrote the introduction to Moore’s first book, also writes about succulents. Her most recent book is Designing with Succulents (2017). She also wrote Succulent Container Gardens (2010) and Succulents Simplified (2013).

Well-known artist and long-time member Irina Gronborg has published A Garden Sketchbook (2014). The charming book is not to be missed.

California Gardener's Guide includes two volumes. The first was written by members Bruce and Sharon Asakawa (2001) and the second was authored by Nan Sterman (2007). In addition, Nan has written Water-Wise Plants for the Southwest (2010) and Hot Color in the Dry Garden (to be published in April 2018). Nan also hosts A Growing Passion, an ongoing TV show on KPBS Thursday evenings.

Steve Brigham and Don Walker wrote of and photographed, respectively, the Ornamental Trees for Mediterranean Climates: The Trees of San Diego. I’ve often complained that most plant books include few pictures that give you an idea of how a plant will look in your landscape. This book rebuts that complaint, giving us photos of trees visible from public streets in San Diego.

You can order most of these excellent books—and I hope you will—at your local independent bookstore or on Amazon. They’re all first rate.

Caroline McCullough is an award winning author. You can follow her work at

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