This book is great fun but I would be remiss if I did not mention a potentially big problem for gardeners in many parts of the U.S., including here in the Northeast. Mr. Schenk splits his gardening time between Vancouver, Auckland and Manila and he draws his experience from gardens sited many zones warmer than ours. His plant lists, in my opinion, have overly optimistic zone assignations: Hebes and Lithodora pop immediately into mind. Also, it would behoove the reader to plumb the text and not just the photo captions when deciding to embark on one of his projects. Even in Vancouver he lifts the miniature trees that he has growing on picturesque rocks and heels them into sawdust for the winter, a fact not noted under the pictures. Be aware, too, that this type of gardening by its very nature uses a much shallower depth of soil, which instantly lessens a plant's hardiness. Add to that the fact that many of his creations are raised substantially up off the ground and you can see the need to choose plant material at least a couple of zones hardier than usual to ensure success.
For all that, I find the book fresh, inventive, eminently readable, funny and engaging. Schenk's voice and turn of phrase is like no one else's. When writing about using driftwood for retaining soil he says: "For maximum stability, the pieces of wood should be about as big as dolphins and dalmatians." We instantly get his point, and I, for one, will never forget this image.
Reprinted from the Oliver Nursery Newsletter, with permission from the author.
Created by Hannah.
Last Modification: Wednesday 13 of June, 2012 15:28:20 CDT by Hannah.
The original document is available at http://www.nargs.org/nargswiki/tiki-index.php?page=Book+of+the+Month%3A+March+2011