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Weeds in My Garden: Observations on Some Misunderstood Plants Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 30, 2003
The Amazon Book Review
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Weed warfare seems to occupy most of a gardener's time, yet these unrivaled adaptative champions of the plant world need not be the bane of one's existence. Some, like Hypericum perforatum, commonly known as St. John's Wort, are popularly believed to have medicinal applications, while others, like Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy), require medical attention instead. For good or ill, learning to appreciate these ubiquitous plants, if not in our gardens then at least in more appropriate habitats, is the premise of Heiser's work and the guiding force behind his lengthy career as a botanist. Profiling 140 weeds, Heiser first classifies them by botanic family, then briefly discusses their nomenclature before offering a concise, nontechnical description of their growth habits and background. Like the retired professor he is, Heiser's is a scholarly approach, at once erudite and entertaining. Although it is not meant to serve as a tool for weed identification, Heiser's guide helps us appreciate those commonplace plants we look at daily without ever really seeing. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“This is a worthwhile read and an interesting take on the horticultural world we love to live in.” —Virginia Master Gardeners Association Report
“Written in a nontechnical fashion for easy reading.” —Mansfield News Journal
“Interesting, enlightening, and a pleasure to read.” —HortTechnology
“Weeds in My Garden is a veritable natural history of weeds.” —Organic Report
“Heiser, a noted Indiana U. botanist who studied weeds for decades, makes a case for the virtues of these maligned plants.” —SciTech Book News
“Sheds new light and offers interesting stories about these much misunderstood plants.” —Northwest Indiana Times
“Professor Heisher has been the most significant popularizer of economic and applied botany for many years. His books. . . . are all superb examples of accessible but authoritative writing on scientific topics. It is clear that [this book’s] particular subject matter, the weeds in Heiser’s research garden in Indiana, is a beloved one.” —HortIdeas
“For anyone interested in weeds as plants.” —Bookseller
“An excellent addition to your garden shelf. . . . as well as fun to thumb through.” —Rockland Courier-Gazette
“A very good guide to the botanical ignored or disregarded, this book should be required reading for most gardeners.” —Chicago Botanic Garden
“The world of weeds is immense. . . . Heiser taps into this world by studying them in his garden for decades and finding some virtues among these misunderstood plants.” —Mansfield News Journal
“Be ready for some fascinating weedy tales. . . . Witty.” —American Herb Association Quarterly Newsletter
“Those who are interested in herbal medicine will have a field day with this book, and those who are interested in why certain weeds have their name will be enlightened.” —Gardening Newsletter
“Not your typical weed identification manual.” —Chesterton Tribune
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This book however is more a compilation of rambles, where Professor Heiser does give specific botanical details but otherwise an inconsistent (and frustratingly incomplete) take on each plant. You can feel, through the text, a sense of entitlement to cover the material however he likes, because of his age and position -- there is not enough of a sense of remembering his audience. There are color photos but aside from the cover shots and a couple of the interior shots, they are unclear -- not close enough, not enough of a depth of field, ultimately not as useful as they could be and certainly not as sharp as one would expect. Yes, diagrams and drawings can actually be more useful than photos -- but there aren't enough of them either, and those present are more aesthetic and illustrative than educational.
We have a lot of these weeds, and I know a little about a lot of them, enough to want to know more, and enough to feel that he has left out some important bits and also to be irritated by the subjective rambling. Of course Professor Heiser knows his material; he needed a stronger editor to send the manuscript back with notations to flesh out many of the entries. *I was however very glad to see that he does not perpetuate the urban legend of milkweed's bitterness and toxicity.*
The technical botanical terms are more than I am used too -- I would have to work through them with drawings and definitions but then I'm sure I'd get the hang of it, just takes time -- but would probably be simple enough reading for more experienced gardeners. It is nice that he combines taxonomy trivia, excerpts from historical documents, folklore and the like. It's just frustrating that one pretty much has to look up any details in another book, as this one brings up a lot of topics (craft, medicinal and cooking applications for example) but does not follow through.
Another thing that annoyed me about this book was the way he did give certain details that I could have done without -- specifically naming the people he considered responsible for the introduction of certain weeds. He may well be correct, as he likely supervised many of the projects and saw the weeds come in, but to this reader it felt too much like gossip, and inappropriate.
It could be fun reading for some though. Please see my page views in the Images section to get a sense of the text. I hope this was of some help and if it was please click the button.