Ornamental Plant Book Available


A book by one of Southern California’s best-known gardeners, garden designer and gardening teacher Philip E. Chandler, is now available from the Southern California Horticultural Society. Called “Reference Lists of Ornamental Plants for Southern California Gardens,” it is based on extensive lists of recommended plants that were given to students in his classes, of plants that excel here and uses they can be put to.

No gardener should be without this new reference and they can now stop borrowing landscape architect Roland Stewart Hoyt’s 1938 classic “Check Lists for the Ornamental Plants of Subtropical Regions,” from those fortunate enough to have this prized (and hard to come by) reference. Chandler’s book is similar but up-to-date. Both authors, being active garden designers, have based many of their observations on actual garden situations, making the books all the more valuable.

A History at Last

Folks back East say California has no history, but when in comes to gardens, we have quite a past, now documented in “The California Garden,” by Jere Stuart French (Landscape Architecture Foundation, 4401 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008; $45). French, professor emeritus and former dean of the College of Environmental Design, California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, follows the rapid and sometimes revolutionary changes in California gardens.


He begins with the climate and topography that have sometimes shaped our gardens (but always allowed for “outdoor living” and anything-goes plant palettes). He explores the Mission-era roots, then shows how early gardens became a synthesis of Moorish, Spanish and Italian elements. Many of the preeminent designers are given sections of their own, such as A. E. Hanson, Florence Yoch or Edward Huntsman-Trout.

Roughly half the book then explores the “Modern Gardens” of Thomas Church, Garrett Eckbo, Lawrence Halprin and others, that caused quite a stir in garden design. Finally, there is a look at the future, including the issues of water and urban crowding and how gardens will respond to these latest influences.

Save a Spider

Of all the creatures in the garden, spiders are probably the most useful, catching all sorts of pests (though, admittedly, also useful bugs), from the flies snared by orb weavers to the sow bugs piled up by daddy longlegs (actually not a true spider, having no fangs and being unable to bite). Unappreciated in the garden, they are even more so in the house.

Experienced spider trappers use a drinking glass and file card to catch and remove spiders from the bathroom or bedroom, then safely release them outside, where, presumably, they can survive and become useful members of garden society. Put the glass over the spider, slide the card under the cup, trapping the spider inside, and release it outside.

That’s also how a new gadget called the Spider Catcher works ($8.95 plus $3.75 shipping, from the Natural Gardening Co., 217 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo, Calif. 94960). It looks like a pair of scissors, with a cup where one blade would be and a cover (the file card) taking the place of the other. Put it over a spider, close the scissors and the spider is caught. Since it is made of clear plastic you can also briefly observe the spider, maybe even identify it as a house spider, cream house spider, mouse spider or cobweb spider, the most common indoor arachnids.

Plant a Tree!

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Tree People have put together a handsome and very useful, all-color guide called “Smart Planting for the New Urban Forest.” It’s available free at over 60 nurseries in areas served by the DWP. DWP is involved because they hope to save energy (by shading paving and buildings, thereby reducing air conditioning) and lower carbon dioxide levels.


A great many experts contributed to this handsomely illustrated reference and there is excellent information on choosing a safe and useful site for a tree, including a diagram that shows shadow lengths at various times of the year (so you can avoid those long winter shadows now shading the pansies), descriptions of 25 good garden trees, how-to on planting and care, and a section on pruning.