The recently published gardening book, TEXAS, Getting Started in the Garden, by Mary Irish, is a book that first time gardeners and recent transplants to Texas would do well to read before they set foot in the garden. The book may also enjoy a wider field of readers as many, who currently garden in Texas, feel the need to change their gardening style due to the extended drought. A move towards growing more native and adapted plants is to be applauded and will be well rewarded.
The author spent many years living in the desert Southwest before returning home to her native Texas. She is well known and respected expert on growing plants and trees in the Southwest and has published a number of books on the subject. She currently works at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.
While writing a garden book for a state of over 268,000 square miles, 4 growing zones, vast differences in annual rainfall and soil conditions, might seem like an impossible task, the author presents the gardener with a variety of plants that are tolerant of such varied growing conditions. Many of us learn to push the boundaries by growing plants in more sheltered microclimates around the property.
The author has laid out the book by first presenting a section which covers the differences in growing conditions in different parts of the state and making it clear that it is important for the beginning gardener to know exactly what they will be dealing with when it comes to soil conditions, rainfall and temperature ranges which do vary widely throughout the state. How I wish I had known, when I came to Texas in the early 90s, that gardening in Central Texas was going to be a completely different experience from all the other places I had lived. It was my first experience with deer and this challenge, among others, is covered in a special section at the end of the book. However, I think the book assumes that at least the back garden is fenced despite the fact that there are many deer resistant plants among the different groups.
Following the introduction are 9 sections each representing a specific group of plants including, annuals, bulbs, desert perennials, grasses, perennials, roses, shrubs, trees and vines. Each is prefaced with a short description of the group before presenting plants within that group. For each there is a description of plant specifics, where and how to grow and some suggestions for design and companion planting. The plants will ensure the gardener an interesting plant palette throughout the year.
Fall is the perfect time to get started on your Texas garden and with this book as a companion you will not go wrong.