The Sunset Western Garden Book was one of the first gardening books we picked up when we bought our house back in 1998. A new version is out this month, now dubbed The New Sunset Western Garden Book, and it’s a significant improvement over our old copy.
Lavish photos have replaced the drawings of my 1998 copy. The new edition has significantly more coverage of edibles, including a vegetable planting schedule as well as nice photographs of veggies worked into ornamental landscaping schemes. One of the improvements I’m most pleased to see are lists of plants for attracting bees, butterflies, birds and beneficial insects. And Hawaii, Alaska southern British Columbia and Alberta residents will be happy to find their states and provinces included. I also find Sunset’s zone system more useful than USDA zones.
I have a few minor quibbles with some of the advice. Adding compost when planting trees is not a good idea. Neither is solarizing. And, speaking as a beekeeper, I would never recommend using imidacloprid under any circumstances. I am happy to see invasive pampas grass moved from “maybe don’t grow” to “definitely don’t grow.”
But it’s the plant list that forms the heart of this book. Even though much of this information on the internet now, I still prefer to get it in book form. I trust the curatorial expertise of Sunset’s editors and the climate specific advice for those of us in the Western US. And the plant lists are still extremely valuable when planning a new garden or remodeling an old one.
ETA: Check out Sunset’s handy online plant finder.
We’ll be giving away six copies of the The New Sunset Western Garden Book tomorrow. Stay tuned!