Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Book: "Growing Trees from Seed"

A review I wrote for another site:

So, you're feeling more ambitious about altering your landscape than a trip to the gardening section at Home Depot can satisfy.

Try "Growing Trees from Seed: A Practical Guide to Growing Native Trees, Vines and Shrubs," a thoughtful, serious guide to gathering and propagating seeds from native species. The goal is to preserve and spread native species. But along the way, gardeners can learn the joys of true horticulture and know that they're part of a system that preserves a species.

Through photos, text and charts, he tells us about nearly aspect of the life of a tree and what we can do to encourage their growth. The text is clear; the photos sharp and richly colored.

There are truly moments of joy here and observations on matters you probably never thought about. The author gently reminds us that it's improper to gather seeds from trees in arboreta, parks and botanical gardens, for a variety of reasons. The site may sell those seeds; it may be tracking how fruitful the tree is; sometimes the seed is needed for research. So keep your hands off.

Another little tidbit: just because you see birds eating a fruit doesn't mean it's safe for humans. He notes that birds will eat poison ivy, Virginia creeper and European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica). The last is a purgative, and he describes knowingly eating a berry but figuring it wouldn't hurt. It took two days before he recovered. So he knows what he's talking about when he urges caution.

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