Two Great Books

Two books for your consideration as Christmas gifts; I have a bargain on the second one for you; and the first is a bargain anyway!
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

November 7, 2004

Earlier this year, the Women’s Art Association of Canada (with financial help from the Dunington Grubb Foundation and Sheridan Nurseries Ltd.) renovated a very tired, overgrown and run-down garden at their headquarters on Prince Arthur Avenue in uptown Toronto. Here are two shots that I took during my visit in early October. If anyone knows the history of the white statuary (which the club has had re-stored) please do advise because they have not been able to trace its origination.
Author photos.

Have you tried to grow Lavender and not been successful? If so, I have a book for you. Growing Lavender, A guide for Cooler Climates, is the title of Christine Moore’s new book about growing and using Lavender.

There is not much about lavender that isn’t covered in Christine’s book, although hardiness might have been better covered. For example, she says, “Agriculture Canada published a new map in 2003.” Well, it was actually in 2000, but the point she misses is that the new map is horribly flawed for both southern and south-western Ontario as well as the lower mainland and Vancouver Island in British Columbia. She would have been much better to have referred to the original Canadian Plant Hardiness Zone map introduced in 1967.

The vagueness on which lavenders are hardy where might have been improved by adding notes of specific species and cultivars being grown in specific cities so readers could compare their area with what others are doing in similar climate areas.

That said, “Growing Lavender” is a good book and an excellent reference to a genus of plants that interest gardeners in all parts of this country, in addition to those in the northern US. Christine explains the almost three dozen species and cultivars of this intriguing plant--including names, bud and flower colour, height of plant and flower and hardiness zone. She also suggests different ways of growing them. Lavender’s uses too are detailed, along with those of the essential oil (containing over 100 chemicals) produced by the plants.

Christine’s book has eight full colour photos of labelled mature lavender plants (most in the Britain and the Channel Islands). She also has several appendices including a list of lavender sources and farms in the U.S. and Canada, as well as a separate list of lavender festivals in the two countries.

More information and copies of the book ($18.95 plus $2.50 shipping) are available directly from the author: or by calling 416-485-5907.

Since this September I’ve talking frequently about a great book which I now suggest as a great Christmas pre-sent--even for yourself!

Margaret Cadwaladr and Madrona Books & Publishing produced In Veronica’s Garden in 2002. The book came out shortly before my first visit to the nearby Milner Gardens.

It is the factual story of Milner Gardens and Woodland, and specifically about the noble owner’s strong personality, without which there quite likely would not be this wonderful garden site just a few Ks from my own home on Vancouver Island. Margaret tells the whole story of Veronica Milner’s life, including her early years in England and Ireland.

Related to Winston Churchill, Veronica held strong to her aristocratic connections in England until her death in November 1998. Diana and Prince Charles had lunch at Milner in 1986; Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed there three days in 1987. In Veronica’s Garden is filled with great photos and stories of the garden, along with interesting and amusing anecdotes involving Veronica herself. For example, apparently Veronica’s love of gardening came from an early age, as schoolmates at one time nicknamed her “Veronica Japonica!”

Margaret also writes about the time Veronica, who during the first few years that the house and garden were owned by Vancouver Island-based Malaspina University-College, persistently called the President. “In one call, she complained that the black squirrels were chasing the brown squirrels and something must be done immediately!”

I enjoyed this book immensely and think it will make a great gift. Right now there is a special price for a signed copy, four special cards of the garden also by the author, and the shipping, all for only $35. You need only write to or call toll-free 1-800-866-5504.



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