The first paragraph of Pat Welsh's new book says it all: "Gardening is different in Southern California.
Anyone who's ever gardened elsewhere will tell you that. It's not like back East . . . it's not like England . . . it's not even like Florida". Pat continues, "Even people who have never gardened anywhere else soon realize how different Southern California gardening is; all you need to do is flip through any book on basic gardening to realize that much of its advice just doesn't apply here."
No more truer words could be written about local gardening.
Fortunately, the next 423 pages of Pat Welsh's Southern California Organic Gardening lay out exacting and accurate information about how to garden successfully in our unique slice of gardening paradise.
This book, like no other, gets right to the heart of our local gardening concerns. Introductory chapters on our climate, soils, environmental issues, water, pests and much more should be required reading for all who aspire to a great garden.
But just like the woman herself, Pat doesn't preach in her book, she teaches. This isn't a book about dry academic topics. This is a book of instruction. Pat tells and then explains exactly what to do, when to do it and how to do it. No vagaries or hazy opinions, Pat gets right to the point with clear, practical information and strong, well-healed advice.
For the past eighteen years, Pat Welsh has authored the most complete guide to local gardening ever printed. My copy, like most others of her original 1991 book is now soil stained and tattered. Likewise for her revised edition, printed in 2000. These books have become gardening classics.
Happily, this newest edition, just released, will allow these predecessor versions to retire to my bookshelf alongside a few other old favorites like Joan Citron's, Selected Plants for Southern California Gardens and Mildred Mathias, Flowering Plants in the Landscape.
Pat Welsh's Southern California Organic Gardening makes the best holiday gardening gift that I can imagine. Since it just arrived in the past week or two at bookstores and garden center shelves you can be assured that the recipient will be in need of it. For those with two black thumbs, a few evenings of reading through Pat's month-by-month lessons will motivate them to greater garden success than they may have thought possible.
Pat Welsh is certainly the queen of Southern California gardening. Once again, in this book Pat clarifies the local gardening year perfectly, with confidence and certainty; advice harvested from a lifetime of gardening and growing. Follow Pat's advice and your gardening adventures will never be more rewarding.
Questions from Readers December 12th, 2009
My camellias look like they are about ready to bloom, the buds are big and fat. Is this the time to fertilize them? Dineen
No. One of the most common mistakes of camellia culture is incorrect fertilization. First, camellias are light feeders, needing only modest amounts of nutrition during the year. The fertilizer used should be an acid forming type, rather than a standard all-purpose blend used in most other parts of a garden. Organic cottonseed meal is perfect for feeding camellias and is usually the primary ingredient in most fertilizers labeled for azalea and camellias. However, fertilizer applied now will have a strong likelihood of doing more harm than good and may shock the plant, causing the flower buds to fall off before they open. Instead, wait until the plant has finished flowering, usually about March or April and give it a light feeding at that time. Regardless of what the label on the fertilizer package says, never dig in the product or cultivate under a camellia. This will damage the tender surface roots and is another cause of bud drop and other problems.