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127 of 133 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you could only have one garden book and you live in the west, this is the one to choose. It is an absolutely indispensable tool for the novice and master gardener alike. Any question regarding a particular plant can usually be answered quickly and easily through this resource. As editor Kathleen N. Brenzel states in the dedication, "This book remains a no-nonsense garden guide for Westerners, built upon the rich legacy of previous editions." It is a guide designed purposely to bring gardening in the west into the new millennium .
One of my key questions before purchasing this book was if there were significant improvements over the 1995 which justified the expense of a new copy. That is a question which each individual should assess. The new 2001 edition has significant improvements over the 1995 edition. 2001 contains 768 pages as compared to the 624 of the 1995. The first section of this edition is "Gardening for the New Century" with a look to traditions of the past and ideas for the future.
The Sunset division of climate zones has always been meticulous and more precise than other zone guides. The West has so many micro-climates which are separated by short distances and differ by altitude, morning fog and delta breezes that it is important in choosing plants to know which are likely to survive in your zone. The big addition to the latest edition is that it is inclusive of Alaska, Hawaii and Western Canada. For gardeners who live in these areas, Sunset has now made their day.
The ever thoughtful Plant Selection Section has been reworked to include divisions for color, basic landscaping, special situation and problem solvers. The problem solver is particularly helpful including plants to use for dry areas, shade, seacoast and deer resistant plants.
The meat of the Garden Book has always been its encyclopedia and continues to be. When choosing a plant from a nursery this reference guide is critical. Editors took extra care to make this section even more attractive by including color illustrations of many of the plants. For each plant information included describes zones where they will thrive, exposure to sun, amount of water necessary and if the plant is poisonous.
The Practical Guide to Gardening section provides information on various gardening techniques, problems and pest. Information on weeds, gardening to attract wildlife and drip systems are included in this section.
The last two sections of the Western Garden Book are Public and Historic Gardens and the new Gardening Glossary which is quite helpful to the novice gardener.
The Western Garden Book continues to be an invaluable resource for gardeners of the west. Those who already have the 1995 edition but who feel the need to have all the latest in information and equipment should purchase this edition. Residents of Hawaii, Alaska and Western Canada should be thrilled with this edition. Anyone who is planning a new landscape would also be advised to have the most current version of The Western Garden Book.
Kudos yet again to Sunset for their excellent work.
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67 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have anticipated this newest edition of "Sunset" for several years, and find it to be all that I have hoped it COULD be. As a nurseryperson fully aware of all the newer cultivars being made readily available to the public, I am very pleased to see that Sunset has obviously consulted with growers and distributors in order to provide information on many new genus and species available to the consumer. This newest edition contains a beautifully done introduction which defines gardening IN TANDEM with Nature in very inspiring form, complete with tantalizing photographs. The Plant Encyclodpedia now includes color in its renderings of plants, in addition to listing many "new" cultivars and charts for plant families with many cultivars. The special Guide to Plant Selection has been re-done beautifully with valuable enhancements to the previous edition. The re-worked Practical Guide to Gardening at the back has been done in a very comprehensive manner, providing many wonderful charts and graphics which "teach" effectively. No matter how many previous editions of Sunset you might own, adding this Millenium edition is well worth the investment. With this newest edition, it seems Sunset has finally caught up with the gardening times!
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102 of 114 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you have an old 2001 edition of this book do not give it up for a new one. For most gardeners the 2007 edition has a fatal flaw. Perhaps there is some other reason but I can only chalk up to horticultural elitism. Sunset decided it would be good to completely drop the plant index cross referencing common to botanical names. While this may have saved a few pages of print, it is a great injustice to an otherwise excellent reference book. Want to look up columbine, sunflower, foxglove? Forget it.

I have been gardening for 30 years and have numerous friends who visit my garden to enjoy its richness. Knowing the taxonomical nomenclature of my native columbine does not contribute to successful cultivation nor to its beauty. It will however allow you to look the plant up in the new, unimproved Western Garden book issue.

What were the Sunset editors thinking.....that they were going to force we gardeners into botanical literacy? No thanks, at 60, I would rather be gardening. If you still have a 2001 edition, keep the old beautiful dog eared copy. Do not waste your money on the 2007 edition which
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a "best buy" for any western gardener. However if you have the previous edition, the changes are so minor (different photos, rewrites that are paraphases, little new material) that your money is better spent on another book. If you own an older copy without color illustrations, pass it on to a new gardener and treat yourself to the 8th edition!
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've found that this latest edition is more difficult to use than earlier editions. The index is much shorter than earlier editions & the common names of many of the plants are not listed. Once you get used to the format in this edition it's still very useful. The photos & descriptions are always beautiful & very helpful. Plant diseases & pests are also organized in a different manner, but not in a good way--same problems as the index of plant names.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
I worked for a Landscape Architectural firm for almost ten years beginning in the mid 1980's. Coming from an educational environment, this submission into a branch of the construction industry was definitely a change for me.

One of the most useful things I learned during this time was about Sunset's Western Sunset Garden Book. This firm designed the landscape for large resorts, high-end custom homes and a wide variety of commercial complexes. The landscape designers always used Western Sunset Garden Book for any and all questions regarding plant material they were using on a project. Unless this book was consulted on a specific plant, it wasn't included in the plans!

Western Sunset Garden Book lists any and all useful information on over 10,000 species of plants. This information includes growing traits, the likes and dislikes of the plant (e.g. likes full sun, is drought tolerant, etc.), the size of the plant(s) at maturity, and just about anything else you can think of needing to know.

The information is also broken down by climate zone, so you can see what plants will thrive in your area and which won't last long. This alone can save you a lot of money when selecting your plant material. I picked up a copy of this "Landscape Bible" as many in our office referred to it, when about half of the plant material in my yard didn't survive the first freeze. Yes those Hibiscus and Bougainvillea looked great and were really growing well until the temperature dropped. Have you ever seen a black Hibiscus or Bougainvillea plant? It's not a pretty sight!

I'd suggest this book for any gardening enthusiast or even for the homeowner that wants to change a few planting beds. It's not the type of book that you'd read cover to cover, but if you use it as a reference book, it could save you from making a costly mistake!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
A very good edition, & I always look forward to Sunset's new edition, although I have noticed that even though they add quite a few new plants every edition, they also delete entrys. This new edition has far fewer Eucalyptus species listed, is the first thing I have observed. As a collector & grower of unusual & exotic plants, it seems necessary to collect all the editions they have printed. I also have one other precaution; the gardening zones are NOT the same as the USDA plant hardiness zones. People who fail to read the first section of the book, & just start looking up plants, could make some grave errors. I also personally feel that their zone system is probably the best there is for California, but leaves something to be desired for some other zones. There are many plants I grow which they do not list as able to grow in my zone of New Mexico. It would appear that the southern Rio Grande river is as cold in winter as Albuquerque, going strictly by their zones. If not for these little annoyances, I'd give the book 5 stars, & for those of you living in California, it is definitely THE book to have if you are anywhere near serious about growing plants for beauty, pleasure, or business.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
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Except for the cover photo, both 7th and 8 editions have the same contents. Excellent garden book. Both editions = 768 pages.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've read both the new and old (2001) versions of this book. The 2001 version has a much better index with common plant names. The new version doesn't have this index, so unless you know the Latin name, it's tough to find something. I'd recommend buying the 2001 version. You'll save money too.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The information contained in the plant encyclopedia is more complete, and the color representations an improvement over the last edition, but the index for the volume is very meager, omitting individual plants' names. Why?
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