Growing Fruit in Northern Gardens
Uncategorized / 19 April 2018

Growing Fruit in Northern Gardens by Sara Williams and Bob Bors Published by Coteau Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $39.95 ISBN 9-781550-509137 For those who desire to grow fruit in their own northern gardens, the comprehensive and visually-inviting new reference book by horticultural experts Sara Williams and Bob Bors would be the logical place to begin. This is a learned duo – Williams has penned numerous books on prairie gardening and leads workshops on diverse gardening topics; Bors is the Head of the Fruit Breeding Program and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan (he’s also globally-known for his work with haskaps, dwarf sour cherries, and Under-the Sea® coleus). These Saskatchewanians possess a plethora of knowledge and experience, and they share it, along with up-to-date research, in Growing Fruit in Northern Gardens: a veritable encyclopedia (but far more fun) that instructs gardeners on everything from the basics – like soil preparation and pruning – to specifics on how to grow and maintain healthy tree, shrub cane, groundcover, and vine fruits, and make the most of your hazelnuts. Aside from the wealth of information on more than 20 species and over 170 fruit…

Creating the Prairie Xeriscape
Coteau Books / 26 April 2013

Creating the Prairie Xeriscape by Sara Williams Published by Coteau Books Review by Regine Haensel $34.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-461-3      I dove into Creating the Prairie Xeriscape in the first week of April while snow drifted down outside.  With winter refusing to loosen its grip on the landscape, the book was like taking a drink of cool water after wandering a dry desert for days.  Though given the subject matter, perhaps I should say taking a small sip of water that I had hoarded and conserved carefully! According to Williams, “Xeriscaping is an environmentally friendly approach to your yard and garden that leaves your piece of the world in as good or better shape than when you assumed stewardship.”      Well known and respected throughout the prairies, Sara Williams’ weekly gardening column appears in more than twenty-five newspapers.  For twelve years she worked as horticultural specialist at Extension Division, University of Saskatchewan.  In 2008, she received the Prairie Garden Award of Excellence, and will be inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2013.      Creating the Prairie Xeriscape is a revision and update (the number of plant species mentioned has nearly doubled) of the 1997 book of the same…

Gardening Naturally
Coteau Books / 7 September 2011

Gardening Naturally: A chemical-free handbook for the Prairies by Sara Williams and Hugh Skinner Published by Coteau Books Review by Noelle Chorney $24.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-449-1 “Chemical-free” and “natural” are constant buzzwords in the contemporary gardening scene. If you’ve ever wondered whether there are practical, chemical-free solutions that will work in our Prairie climate, you will appreciate the information provided by Prairie gardening experts Sara Williams and Hugh Skinner in “Gardening Naturally.” The authors make a compelling case for reducing chemical use in gardens and outline the fundamental principles of a chemical-free garden: namely to grow healthy plants that can resist pests and diseases. Keeping your plants well fed and watered, rotating your plants, and maintaining a high level of diversity are all addressed. The remainder of the book is broken into plant types: lawn, vegetables, flowers, and trees, with a useful diagnostic chart for each. An in-depth description of all diseases and insects that may befall your garden is included for each section, with several suggestions for control, ranging from ‘less toxic’ to entirely chemical-free alternatives. This format allows gardeners to make their own pest and disease control decisions according to their comfort level with chemicals and their level of…

Interwoven Wild
Thistledown Press / 8 July 2008

Interwoven Wild: An Ecologist Loose in the Garden by Don Gayton Published by Thistledown Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $15.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-35-5 When one considers gardening books, “coffee table” books containing sumptuous photographs might spring to mind, but BC writer and nationally-known ecologist Don Gayton has written a gardening book of another nature, and for this gardener’s money, it’s far more satisfying than a full-colour, glossy album of gardens I could never aspire to. Gayton’s book of intelligent, easy-to-read literary essays, Interwoven Wild: An Ecologist Loose in the Garden delivers an ideal combination of history, witty personal anecdotes, and practical information. A vague through-line exists in the antics of Gayton’s dandelion-flinging dachshund, Spud, “who looks like an Irish setter might if it were left in the dryer too long.” Gayton is a first-rate writer and an “every person’s” philosopher. He makes the biology of a compost bin sound like both poetry and stand-up comedy (“Nobody likes a monotonous diet, not even bacteria”). Of the “Split Eden” – our penchant for pairing the cultivated and the wild – he contends that this duality “courses well beyond yard and garden into our very understanding of nature.” His subjects include soil quality…