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Soule Garden: Plant books that appeal to all readers

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Posted: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 3:00 am

Happy November! Yikes, how did that sneak up on us? Next thing you know it will be Thanksgiving, and then the holidays where we celebrate the gift of light (in it’s various forms) by giving gifts and sharing time with family and friends. 

You can get a jump on the holiday season with these plant related books. They are appropriate for even the non-plant person.

The first two books involve eating and cooking, something we all do. First, let me start by saying that the International Herb Society has designated the rose as the official “2012 Herb of the Year.” Responding to this international acclaim are two useful books. 

“How to Eat A Rose” by Jim Long ($5.95, Long Creek Herbs, © 2004) is 38 pages long and chock full of easy-to-follow tips plus both simple and exotic recipes. Many, like the rose petal cake, could be made with (rehydrated) dried rose petals available at a number of our local health food stores. 

This fun book would make a lovely addition to any gift basket. Better yet, get the book now for yourself, and make some of the jams, jellies or vinegars for giving as gifts. 

This is not Long’s first volume by far. He is the author of more than two dozen books on herbs and gardening, and you may have seen him on Discovery or HGTV. His website is www.longcreekherbs.com.

“Eat Your Roses” by Denise Schreiber ($17.95, St. Lynn’s Press © 2011) is offered in a book that can stand up on your counter as you prepare any of the 52 edible flowers within its pages. 

One reason I like this volume is that it includes a number of species that we commonly use as landscape plants here in the Southwest, including prickly pear, yucca, hibiscus and red yucca (Hesperaloe).

If you have been reading my column for a while, you know how I often advocate growing an edible landscape! Recipes include a salsa with nasturtiums, calendula corn muffins, and rose petal jam. I get hungry just looking at the photographs of each recipe.  Schreiber has been gardening and discussing the topic on a weekly radio show for a number of years. In 2000 she started the popular Edible Flowers Food Fest, held in Pittsburgh every July. Order from www.stlynnspress.com.

“How Carrots Won the Trojan War” by Rebecca Rupp ($14.95, Storey Publishing, © 2011) is hot off the presses. The front cover announces that it contains “Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables.” 

I had to pry my copy out of my non-gardening engineer husband’s hands so I could write this review, which gives you an indication of its widespread appeal. The well-written chapters focus on such topics as how melons undermined Mark Twain’s morals, or how celery contributed to Casanova’s conquests. 

The book includes fascinating and sometimes strange behind-the-scenes tales about 23 of the world’s most popular vegetables. Rupp has authored a number of nature and science books, and her articles have appeared in a number of national magazines, including Mother Earth News. This book, her latest, is available in print or as an eBook from www.storey.com

In this tight economy, these three books are nicely affordable gifts that offer widespread appeal. As always, enjoy!

Jacqueline Soule has been writing about gardening in the Southwest for close to three decades. Her latest book, “Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today,” ($14.95, Tierra del Sol Institute © 2011) is available at area nurseries. Or email kinoherbbook@hotmail.com for more information.

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