Two books on specific topics that are still very valuable
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

February 18, 2018

Above, The cover of the Stonework book gives a good idea of just what it is about. Below, From Seed to Bloom is an excellent reference text that is complete with sketches of all 500+ flowers written about. Book covers courtesy Storey Publishing in the U.S.A.




Charles McRaven's book, Stonework Techniques and Projects, by Storey Publishing, is not like any of the other gardening books I've written about. This is a how-to book about building steps, walls, waterfalls, bridges, entryways etc.

This is a true how-to book for the gardener who wishes to build anything of stone in his (or her) garden. In addition to a short opening essay on the values of stone (which also includes a discussion of the negative side--its weight), the author outlines in detail the types, sources, selection, cutting, shaping and handling of stone for all kinds of projects.

My partner Yves and I having built a wall of prefabricated stone in my own garden (Yves did nearly all the work!), I was aware that these new lines of pre-fab concrete "stones" need no concrete foundation, and only a little gravel. I therefore looked to see if Charles McRaven acknowledged this type of stone--which he does not. However, he does go into detail on various types of foundation for natural stone projects. That lead me to wonder if, since the author hails from Virginia--a much milder climate, the book is of use to us here since we have to build foundations much deeper than he would.

The answer was simple. The last page of the text, before an excellent glossary, is an appendix showing frost-line zones--much like a plant hardiness zone map. For example, in southern Ontario we fall into his zone F or E, and it is stated that the maximum depth of frost in zone F is 125-150 cm (50-60"). [Zone E is 150-175 cm.] According to anything architects and engineers have told me, those figures are correct. Of course, he suggests consulting local building sources for specific guidance.

For most gardeners, this book's detailed instructions on how to build natural stone waterfalls, ponds, walkways and barbecues will likely be most popular, but the instructions for other larger projects such as bridges will be of interest to some who wish to use the natural effect of stone through a large garden.

This book, 184 pages of large format, well illustrated with black and white photos and sketches throughout is $26.95 here. If you cannot find it in a local bookstore, just call Storey Publishing direct, toll-free at 1 800 441-5700.

Another book from Storey Publishing that seems appropriate now, as the time for starting new plants from seed approaches, is: From Seed To Bloom, by Eileen Powell. In addition to 22 pages of general information on starting seeds, cuttings, bulbs, etc., there are almost 270 pages of individual instructions for 517 different plants--from Abronia to Zinnia! There is a sketch of each along with full data on a special needs of the plant.

The final few pages is a listing of over 150 companies who supply either seeds or plants. Although most of these are in the US, there is a good number from all areas of Canada as well. Where there is a catalogue available, it is mentioned, along with the cost if any.

If you know someone who grows plants from seed, and has expressed an interest in learning more, or expanding his or her knowledge on this topic, this would make an excellent gift book. It is 312 pages, all with black and white sketches, and plenty of detail. Cost in Canada is $26.50, and like Stonework Techniques and Projects, is available from Storey Publishing through their toll-free 800 number 441-5700.

Next week I expect I’ll be back to new annual flowers for your 2018 garden.


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