03 February, 2015

Four well thumbed garden books

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

My Christmas book was published with gracious timing. Marijke Honig designed the Biodiversity Showcase Garden at the Green Point Urban Park. Blog readers around the world download our photo of their advice for a wildlife pond in your own garden.

Indigenous plant palettes
Marijke Honig

South Africa has both a wealth of indigenous plants and a diversity of climates. Distracted at the nursery by Shiny New, I was often disappointed by plants which quietly faded away. I can throw a question at Marijke Honig's book (published by Quivertree Publications in 2014) - Indigenous plant palettes, an essential guide to plant selection. Screen the neighbours, topiary, food for sunbirds who miss the bottlebrush???

Indigenous plants to feed sunbirds

Burchellia bubalina for sunbirds

And find an all new plant Burchellia bubalina now growing in the New Zealand Christmas tree gap at the bottom of our garden. My camera doesn't begin to do justice to the inspirational photos of gardens filled with plants indigenous to South Africa.

The garden book I reach for, whether it is a plant in my garden, or one I read about in your garden, is – Kristo Pienaar’s The South African What flower is that? Inspired by an earlier book by Australian Stirling Macaboy, ours includes both common or garden, and indigenous to South Africa.

What flower is that?
Kristo Pienaar

From the foreword – Carl Linnaeus wrote to his friend Ryk Tulbagh, then governor of the Cape, that he would rather have been Ryk Tulbagh than Croesus or Alexander the Great because of the wonderful plants in the Cape. (Tulbaghia ‘society’/wild garlic)

This book tells me where the plant is from. Both geography, in the world. And plant family. Then I can go to the family, see what the relatives look like, and get a better understanding of the plant. My book was written in 1984, and botanists are always rearranging family relationships as they explore genetics. For South African plants I check the PlantZAfrica website for the latest name.

Kristo Pienaar

Who is in the Mustard family?

Kristo Pienaar was professor of Botany at the University of the Western Cape, well-known in South Africa for his slot on the environmental program 50/50 (people and nature). His Veld Focus, was an exceedingly wide ranging programme looking at plants animals rocks and everything in between.

Waterwise gardening
Ernst van Jaarsveld

Ernst van Jaarsveld

Ernst van Jaarsveld both lives and works at Kirstenbosch. His Wonderful Waterwise Gardening – a regional guide to indigenous gardening in South Africa. He is the curator of the Conservatory at Kirstenbosch and is dedicated to succulents. A gifted, entertaining and inspiring speaker, whose love for our plants shines thru.

Restios of the fynbos
Els Dorrat Haaksma and H. Peter Linder

Elegia capensis grows in whorls like Equisetum, but NOT related

My sister gave me Restios of the fynbos by Els Dorrat Haaksma and H. Peter Linder. You know how difficult it is to identify grasses, and reeds, and restios. This was a book I borrowed from the library. Got my own copy now!

I enjoyed living vicariously as Each Little World revamped their library. Custom hand crafted by Amish book shelves. Space to display a collection. Persian carpets.

Influenced by a groundswell of living simply and moving Too Much Stuff, I weeded some books. Years ago one poor man walked into our living room, looked around in horror and asked – have you READ All These BOOKS??? I do love my books! Where gardening books were once, from England, with fertiliser and poison, now they move towards indigenous to our part of South Africa, with nature.

Pictures by Diana Studer  
of  Elephant's Eye on False Bay 

(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red.
Those are my links.
To read or leave comments, either click the word Comments below,
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23 comments:

  1. Some great sounding books! How desperately we need resources that provide information about indigenous plants and gardening! There are so very few good books that fill this need, and, of course, each area needs their own different set. The internet helps, as I'm not sure what I would do without without it sometimes in identifying native plants in my yard. I would love to see more books about landscaping with native plants as well. I did have some books about gardening in the Southeast US, but now that I've moved, I need to find some good ones about the Northeast.

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    1. for your Northeast some good garden bloggers?
      Between PlantZAfrica and a few nurseries with helpful websites I can find some help online.
      But there's nothing like a book in your hands!

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  2. I've been "weeding"an overabundance of books and currently get most new reading material from the library.R. had been coughing and sneezing and we learned that books are the worst culprits for collecting dust and mold. Every once in a while, though, there is a "must have". You're so right: nothing beats a book.

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    1. for reading, I'm revelling in our new library. I've so much missed coming home with a pile of books ... what shall I read first?

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  3. You can never have too many books I think. I love walking into homes of people who read. Stacks of books are beautiful to me and usually means there's some pretty interesting people living there.

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    1. ... and that sinking feeling when you walk into a new livingroom, and there is NOT A BOOK in sight!

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  4. These are the kinds of books I truly enjoy. I've never been able to give away gardening/botanical books. I'm too greedy. Plenty of other books to share, but my plant books are so treasured. The images in the book from your sister are stunning. I like the way the plant graphic crosses the gutter of the book--fabulous!

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    1. the restio illustrations were a new technique. She scanned in the actual plant material.

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  5. Great to see these books on your local plants! I'm weirdly amazed by all the publishing going on all over the world. Sometimes I get very closed horizons! I'm overdue posting some book reviews myself about our local flora, fauna, and history.

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    1. It's encouraging that there is a groundswell of support for gardening with indigenous plants for biodiversity! And an awareness of invasive aliens.

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  6. Diana I love seeing gardening books from different parts of the world. Yours are so diverse and rich with info and geared toward nature.

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    1. It's a rare and very special book that fits my particular style of gardening indigenous for biodiversity. Marijke is my garden guru!

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  7. As much as I love books, I enjoy passing them on and just keep the ones I love the best. But a friend recently gave me his collection of gardening books since he was moving and now I have so many I had to empty several shelves from an extra bookcase just to store them all!

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    1. I have my mother's books in boxes while we renovate. Many garden books there. One day - I want the bookshelves comfortably filled, with room for a few new ones. I am enjoying having only the loved books out on the shelves now.

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  8. It's great that such quality SA books are available. Sometimes I see beautiful remaindered books offered very cheaply but if they're not Australian they're more academic than practical. Very interesting to see your botanical bibles.

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    1. and YOUR botanical bibles, would interest me.
      Today I was pruning next door's bottlebrush and wondering as I ran it thru the chipper, if it's related to tea tree?

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  9. I do so love my gardening books, Diana. They are even more special to me when they are signed by the author. I have many, many; but seem to turn to the same trusty few. I read novels on my Kindle, but not gardening books -- they fill my house. I should post about them sometime ... P. x

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    1. please do! And I'll add your link here. It adds a wider deeper layer to both you and your garden for me as a distant reader.

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  10. Garden books are the best Christmas gifts! I own a small library of garden books, and I have read and re-read them all. Books that apply to my own region are particularly helpful. After one sits unread on the shelf for a long while, I get it out again and read it again, usually enjoying it just as much as when new. I am currently waiting for a new one on woodland gardening to arrive, though I long ago ran out of shelf space and where will I put it?

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    1. I have a booklet about forest gardening - one day there'll be a 'woodland' for the birds at the bottom of the garden with the pond.

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  11. They both come from the same family - Myrtaceae. There is an Australian version of What Flower is That, and I've always intended to buy it, but never have. I mainly rely on the internet now for plant info and id. There are some very reliable and authoritative websites - I can feel a post coming on!

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    1. yes, I now have my mother's original Australian one too. And I see the South African has been updated for a second edition. I'll link you in, if you do a post.

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  12. Some people say they don't need books, they can find everything online and soon there will be no more books. I hope they are wrong. Our house would be almost empty without the books.

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