Book Review: The New Sunset Western Garden Book

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!

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  1. Being a landscape design consultant, I use the SWGB daily.I have the last edition, which has over 8,000 plants in it. I quickly flipped through the new one last weekend and I got the impression that there were fewer plants in it now. Can you comment on that?

  2. I’ve used this book for years. You still need to do research when buying plants to make sure that they will grow in your area or which variety will grow in your area. Blueberries will grow all over the US, but only the rabbit eye varieties will grow here in SE Texas. I take this book with me when shopping for plants

  3. I really like gardening, and thus this book. I have it at home and there is a lot of info provided in the content of the book what can be useful for your own garden. I can recommend everyone to buy it, if you love gardening, you’ll love this book!

  4. Pingback: Grama’s Garden | Wonder in the Woods

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