If you could only have one garden book and you live in the west, this is the one to choose. It is an absolutely indispensable tool for the novice and master gardener alike. Any question regarding a particular plant can usually be answered quickly and easily through this resource. As editor Kathleen N. Brenzel states in the dedication, "This book remains a no-nonsense garden guide for Westerners, built upon the rich legacy of previous editions." It is a guide designed purposely to bring gardening in the west into the new millennium .
One of my key questions before purchasing this book was if there were significant improvements over the 1995 which justified the expense of a new copy. That is a question which each individual should assess. The new 2001 edition has significant improvements over the 1995 edition. 2001 contains 768 pages as compared to the 624 of the 1995. The first section of this edition is "Gardening for the New Century" with a look to traditions of the past and ideas for the future.
The Sunset division of climate zones has always been meticulous and more precise than other zone guides. The West has so many micro-climates which are separated by short distances and differ by altitude, morning fog and delta breezes that it is important in choosing plants to know which are likely to survive in your zone. The big addition to the latest edition is that it is inclusive of Alaska, Hawaii and Western Canada. For gardeners who live in these areas, Sunset has now made their day.
The ever thoughtful Plant Selection Section has been reworked to include divisions for color, basic landscaping, special situation and problem solvers. The problem solver is particularly helpful including plants to use for dry areas, shade, seacoast and deer resistant plants.
The meat of the Garden Book has always been its encyclopedia and continues to be. When choosing a plant from a nursery this reference guide is critical. Editors took extra care to make this section even more attractive by including color illustrations of many of the plants. For each plant information included describes zones where they will thrive, exposure to sun, amount of water necessary and if the plant is poisonous.
The Practical Guide to Gardening section provides information on various gardening techniques, problems and pest. Information on weeds, gardening to attract wildlife and drip systems are included in this section.
The last two sections of the Western Garden Book are Public and Historic Gardens and the new Gardening Glossary which is quite helpful to the novice gardener.
The Western Garden Book continues to be an invaluable resource for gardeners of the west. Those who already have the 1995 edition but who feel the need to have all the latest in information and equipment should purchase this edition. Residents of Hawaii, Alaska and Western Canada should be thrilled with this edition. Anyone who is planning a new landscape would also be advised to have the most current version of The Western Garden Book.
Kudos yet again to Sunset for their excellent work.