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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2000
This is a good choice for the beginning native gardener who needs a sense of the range of native plants available. It's a pleasant browse, and provides a representative sample of the choices you might make with natives. I appreciated the straightforward tone of the writer, who studiously avoided the pretensions of some of the more unctious coffeetable books. Let's just say she's gardening in urban New Jersey, not in northern California, and leave it at that.
On the other hand, there are some gaps in Ms. Taylor's knowledge that make this a less than definitive reference. The short version is that she's often recommending a plant based on the sendup of an arboretum or public garden with which she's corresponded, and that sometimes she hasn't done the research to back that recommendation up. For an egregious example, she describes the American form of Bittersweet (Celastrus Scandens) in a way that clearly demonstrates that she doesn't know the difference between it and the invasive asian form. That sort of slip is a real problem, both philosophically and practically, for someone who's into native plants. Oops.
All in all, I'd say this is a useful book that gets you interested in the plants, but that you should do a healthy amount of leg work elsewhere before you plant. The research is half the fun anyway...
For another native plant reference, with less species but more reliable context and detail, try C. Colston Burrell's A Gardener's Encyclopedia of Wildflowers.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2001
Not to belabor a nitpicker's criticism, but this book does include a few gaffes that compromise its use as a reference. I do very much enjoy the book, and my review below reflects that. But it just gets some things wrong.
For example, the species of Bittersweet southern gardeners have trouble with is Celastrus Orbiculatus -- oriental bittersweet. Yep, it's highly invasive, and yes, it can "consume entire forests" as this author says "bittersweet" does. The native American Species is Celastrus Scandens. The two differ in the position of the berries on the vine, partly... and they also differ in that the native one isn't swallowing entire forests. They're hard for an intelligent amateur to tell apart when looking at an individual plant... which is exactly the problem that this book has, too.
There's a HUGE difference between American chestnuts -- enormous trees now nearly gone from their native range due to blight -- and the shrubby asiatic Chestnuts that were brought in by nurseries and that carried the blight into this country in the first place. That's exactly the sort of distinction a gardener interested in native plants wants to know about, and it's basically the one this book misses with the two Bittersweets. In a lot of cases it's that sort of thing that got us into native gardening in the first place. So, see, it's bad to make this kind of error in a book on native plants.
Again, this is a decent book that just slips up in a few spots.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 1999
This is an excellent introduction to native plants and one that should be in every native plant enthusiast's library. It's easy to look up the plants you need more information about, and the pictures are very helpful. I use it often as a reference.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I bought this older used book (1996) and find it remains quite relevant. One of the reasons we gardeners end up planting invasive species is because they are easy to grow. In EASY CARE NATIVE PLANTS Patricia Taylor addresses one of the biggest issues for gardeners... "I would grow native species, but I don't have time."

Well, Taylor suggests low maintenance creatures that will be no more work than the invasive plants you intended to install. With Taylor, we visit public and private gardens where individuals are making a difference one plant at a time. From these gardeners, we learn how to construct various gardens including a woodlands garden, a drought tolerant native garden, and a front yard native garden. Taylor provides lists of plants for each of these gardens. For a complementary book, you might consider buying both Taylor's book and 100 EASY-TO-GROW NATIVE PLANTS by Lorraine Johnson which is a kind of annotated plant directory (although it focuses mainly on non-woody plants, whereas Taylor includes trees, shrubs and plants). Alternatively, you can contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service for a free monograph on plant invaders and substitutes at [...] Do that and you are sure to find 'Celastrus orbiculatus' or Oriental Bittersweet on the "No-no" list. Also the latter monograph suggests several native alternatives to bittersweet, such as 'Campsis radicans' (trumpet vine) and 'Passiflora incarnata' or Passion Vine.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2001
This is a top-notch gardening book, one that all gardeners can use to enrich their properties. While some may find recommendations by plant experts to be a disadvantage, I like knowing that top horticulturists have carefully selected the plants in this book (southern gardeners tell me that Taylor is right on the mark in describing the American bittersweet). The garden profiles, particularly, for me, the California one, are not only good reads but also packed with useful information. The book is designed to be useful - very easy to look for a yellow flower that blooms all summer or a small shrub with white spring flowers. I turn to it again and again to learn about and find beautiful, interesting and low maintenance plants. I have bought and given 14 of these books as gifts to friends and have received unanimous 5 star reviews from the recipients!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2006
The outstanding characteristic of this book is that it is USABLE by regular, non-professional busy people who love gardening and nature and especially want to respect native plant communities and plant with sensitivity to their own region.

The Bittersweet confusion is terrible, but it is offset by good organization, good photos, and short descriptions on the outside of pages.

Another outstanding feature is that the author includes trees, shrubs, and vines, as well as flowers. This increases the value of this book significantly.

Flowers are wonderful, but people need to get a bit beyond flowers--flowers--flowers. For example, many butterfly species depend upon TREES as host plants and then use flowers for nectar. The distinctive Red Admiral uses trees at all stages of life and leaves the flowers for others.

Thanks to the author for a good down-to-earth reference that answers practical "ordinary" questions. I have recommended this book to a number of people in "wildlife/habitat gardening" classes and have given several as gifts . . . inserting a note about the Bittersweet :-)!

P.S. Yeah, I really should change that ridiculous name. I was under the influence of busy visiting grandchildren when I first reviewed a book here. . . and we do have a great goofy time!
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on June 28, 2009
Originally saw the book in the library and wanted to buy it. Turns out it was out of production but this site had one at a great price. Received it in a little over a week and am well satisfied.
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on July 13, 2009
Know the author. Enjoyed the book. Will be giving copies as Christmas gifts to friends.
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