Sometimes when browsing gardening books we find it annoying to have to paw through page after page of stunning plants and know they won’t grow here. All too often the Inland Northwest is lumped with the Coastal Northwest and we’re left with the hard task of looking carefully at zonal restrictions for every plant in the books. And, often we are disappointed with the plants we are left with and look longingly at the lush, and sometimes fragile, plants that thrive in Olympia and Seattle and Portland.
Now, landscape architect Charlotte M. Frieze has done the hard work for us. In a new series of books, plants are divided by zone, not region, and the good news is that we can grow virtually every plant included in “The Zone Garden 3-4-5” ($22.95, paperback).
The early chapters delve into the microclimates that might even be different on your property, covering temperature differences, humidity, sunlight and wind, all of which affect the plants.
Subsequent chapters include the annuals and perennials, shrubs, grasses, groundcovers, vines, roses herbs and vegetables that are the best bets for our zone (5a and 5b in the greater Spokane area). Pages are also given to plants appropriate for butterfly gardens and for deer-resistant gardens.
Other books in the series are: “The Zone Garden 5-6-7” and “The Zone Garden 8-9-10.”
As a companion for its “Western Garden Book,” Sunset publishing has released the “Sunset Western Landscaping” book ($29.95, paperback). Acknowledging that landscape design has long taken a cue from British and Colonial gardens, the editors at Sunset say this is the first comprehensive landscaping guide for the unique topographies and microclimates of the 11 states west of the Continental Divide.
We’re a little piqued at the brief nod to gardeners in the Inland Northwest. The introduction to the Pacific Northwest chapter says: Two climates influence Northwest landscaping: moist and mild west of the Cascade Range, dry and harsh on the east side. On both sides of the Cascades you’ll find gardeners who tinker with nature, imitating the landscape on the other side. In Portland, Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver, gardeners treasure their sages, alliums, and sedums, and turn sunny slopes into quick-draining micro-deserts.
In Spokane and Boise, many gardeners won’t do without shade beds, fern collections, moss, and rock.
And that’s the last we read of or see of the Inland Northwest.
That said, this book has plenty of merit. Chapters explore landscaping with structures such as decks, paths, ponds and steps, and with plants; finishing touches such as birdhouses, boulders and lighting, dealing with regional problems, creating landscape plans and a thorough discussion of materials and techniques.
Although the book is not meant as a plant guide, there are plenty of lists of flowers, shrubs and trees apropos to various landscape designs.
Gardeners here, though, should consult a reference that lists plants by hardiness rating or zone before planning specific plantings suggested in the “Sunset Western Landscaping” book.