Friday, September 9, 2011

High and Dry: Gardening with Cold-Hardy Dryland Plants; Book Review by Liz Swiech

Nold, Robert.  High and Dry: Gardening with Cold-Hardy Dryland Plants. Portland, Or. : Timber Press, 2008.

Okay, whoever put the hold on this book at the library – you are forcing me to return it after renewing it twice and I may just have to go out and buy it for my own library. This is like a huge plant catalog specifically for our region with heaps of additional information, including the personal experience and opinion of a tried and true Colorado gardener.

Nold’s relaxed writing style and wry sense of humor kept me browsing through 400 pages of detailed plant descriptions and color photos. For example, in the commentary about Cercocarpus intricatus (little-leaf mountain mahogany) Nold says, “True, life would be good if C. intricatus came with bright red flowers the size of Frisbees lasting all year, but this is a really beautiful shrub even without the flowers.”

Robert Nold
Nold does not pretend to have the last word – like admitting defeat in an attempt to start a particular plant from seed, but at the same time offers known advice for the reader to try their hand at it. He’s not afraid to say what common practices he doesn’t follow – like planning. The page or so dedicated to this subject had me laughing out loud.

Some details and commentary regarding botanical nomenclature were beyond my current scope of interest but may interest more geekier plant geeks than myself. A forward by Panayoti Kelaidis (Senior Curator and Director of Denver Botanic Gardens Outreach) gives credence to Nold’s knowledge and experience. Altogether, I believe this is an excellent resource for the Colorado gardener. The writing style and practical knowledge lend an added dimension to an otherwise dry subject (pun intended).