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SD HORT BOOK CLUB: Next Book - Vanilla by Tim Ecott, October 3, 2022 & More . . .

By Karen England, for Let's Talk Plants! October 2022.

WIX stock photo.
You are invited to join the SD Hort Book Club
– everyone is welcome.
SDHBC meets the first Monday of every month (except when we skip a month😁) on Zoom at 4:30 p.m. for Happy Half Hour social time and 5 p.m. for book discussion. Zoom link is emailed directly to SDHBC members.

Interested? Send an email to with “book club” in the subject line.


October 3, 2022 - Vanilla: Travels in Search of the Ice Cream Orchid by Tim Ecott © 2004 History. Grove Press.

Special to this meeting only! As a part of this discussion, Karen England will be demonstrating her method of making homemade vanilla extract, complete with a downloadable recipe sheet, something that has served her and her kitchen well for 32 years.

About the book:

"From Papantla in Mexico - 'the city that perfumed the world' - to the Indian Ocean islands, Vanilla traces the story of the vanilla plant and its secretive trade. From the golden cups of Aztec emperors to the ice-cream dishes of U.S. presidents, Vanilla has mystified and tantalized man for centuries. The only orchid that produces an agriculturally valuable crop, vanilla can mask unpleasant tastes and smells, but also makes pleasant tastes stronger, smoother, and longer lasting. Because it has over four hundred separate flavor components, choosing premium vanilla beans is as complex as judging the aroma and taste of fine wine. Vanilla finds its way into over half of all dessert products sold worldwide, as well as the finest perfumes, well-known brands of rum and vodka, and even Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Americans consume more vanilla than anyone else on Earth-a fact that has forced growers and traders to mount armed guard over their plants in the tropical jungle. The traders who travel the world in search of America's favorite flavor are a small and secretive elite. Vanilla is a globetrotting adventure that follows buccaneers, aristocrats, and gourmets, all in search of the ice cream orchid."


November 7, 2022 - The Complete Writings Of Kate Sessions in California Garden – New Edition - San Diego Floral Association. © 2020 Non-fiction.

Special Event: Not to be missed . . .

. . . November is Kate Sessions birthday and to celebrate, members of the San Diego Floral Association have been invited to join in our discussion and the SDFA editors of this book have agreed to join us in the discussion. What an event this will be!

Reviewed by Lucy Warren, originally published in California Garden, Mar-Apr 2020.

“Kate Olivia Sessions began her contributions to California Garden magazine in the very first issue in 1909 with advice on tending “The July Flower Garden” and specific advice on the history, description and cultivation of “Romneya coulteri, or Matilija Poppy”. Her final article “Palms” was found among her papers and published posthumously in 1940.” - Lucy Warren

Bonus tidbit from SDHS member Lynn Neagley: Kate Sessions is prominently listed in the Smithsonian Gardens Timeline of American Garden History. Check it out here - Timeline of American Garden History - Smithsonian Gardens (


December 5, 2022 - The Multifarious Mr. Banks: From Botany Bay to Kew, The Natural Historian Who Shaped the World by Toby Musgrave © 2020 Biography. Yale University Press.

About the book:

In this engaging account, Toby Musgrave reveals the true extent of Banks’s contributions to science and Britain. From an early age Banks pursued his passion for natural history through study and extensive travel, most famously on the HMS Endeavour. He went on to become a pivotal figure in the advancement of British scientific, economic, and colonial interests. With his enquiring, enterprising mind and extensive network of correspondents, Banks’s reputation and influence were global. Drawing widely on Banks's writings, Musgrave sheds light on Banks’s profound impact on British science and empire in an age of rapid advancement.


SD HORT BOOK CLUB REVIEW: In September we read The Nature Of Oaks by Douglas W. Tallamy ©2021 Nonfiction.

About the book:

Oaks sustain a complex and fascinating web of wildlife. The Nature of Oaks reveals what is going on in oak trees month by month, highlighting the seasonal cycles of life, death, and renewal. From woodpeckers who collect and store hundreds of acorns for sustenance to the beauty of jewel caterpillars, Tallamy illuminates and celebrates the wonders that occur right in our own backyards. He also shares practical advice about how to plant and care for an oak, along with information about the best oak species for your area. The Nature of Oaks will inspire you to treasure these trees and to act to nurture and protect them.

We unanimously rated it with two thumbs up! 👍👍(U)

Cork oaks however were not covered in this book but that's okay! We learned all about cork oaks, Quercus suber, from member Pamela Koide Hyatt when she gave us this wonderful presentation that is on our YouTube channel here

Because the book did not specifically address the oaks of Southern California much, the following was added to the discussion by Karen England regarding her oaks planted in Vista, CA.

Karen England
Over twelve years ago Karen's husband planted a live oak for her in front of their home.

At the SDHS Sharing Gardens tour of Karen's garden in November of 2021, a seedling oak was noticed on Karen's property by a keen-eyed garden tourist, who wondered if it was a cork oak. Most likely it is not, but Karen is tracking its growth now, 🤞 just in case it is!

While researching Native Oaks Of California Karen found this beautiful poster for sale from Good Nature Publishing and shared the information in case others wanted to buy one too.

Native Oaks of California

Size: 36" x 24" illustrated in color pencil by landscape architect and tree genius Michael Lee.

Oaks included on this print:

• Deer Oak • Island Oak • Island Scrub Oak • Interior Live Oak • Coast Live Oak • Canyon Live Oak • Huckleberry Oak • Palmer Oak • Desert Scrub Oak • Scrub Oak • Coastal Scrub Oak • Tucker Oak • Muller Oak • Leather Oak • Mesa Oak • Blue Oak • Oregon White Oak • Valley Oak • California Black Oak • Oracle Oak

Print Features:
•Oak leaf image, linked by number to central image
•Acorn image
•Common and botanical names
•Range map for each tree
•All 19 native species and oracle oak
•Illustrated by Michael Lee, color pencil 
Printed in Seattle, Washington USA on quality FSC paper

FYI - I have it on good authority that the following oaks will be available at the California Native Plant Society-San Diego Chapter ( Plant Sale on Saturday, October 15, 2022, 8 am to 3 pm, Casa Del Prado Courtyard, Balboa Park:

Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia

Nuttall's Scrub Oak, Quercus dumosa

Engelmann Oak, Quercus engelmannii


Our Book Club Ratings System Explained -

👍👍 Two thumbs up = excellent

👍 One thumb up = good

✔️ No thumbs up or down = okay

👎 One thumb down = bad

👎👎 Two thumbs down = awful

(U) = unanimous rating


Karen England,,

is the head muckety-muck

of the SD Hort Book Club and she agrees with Abraham Lincoln who said -

"A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others."


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