Book review: "The 20-Minute Gardener"

"Sunset Western Garden Book: The 20-Minute Gardener"
by Susan Mulvihill

Sunset books have long been the go-to guides for gardeners on the Western side of the United States. Chances are, you probably have a well-used copy of their "Western Garden Book" sitting on your bookshelf at this very moment.

The folks at Sunset have recently published a new garden book and it's packed with all sorts of ideas and useful information for busy gardeners. And we're all busy as can be, right?

In "The 20-Minute Gardener" (Sunset Publishing, 288 pages, $24.95), the Sunset editors have pulled together a wealth of ideas on how you can keep up with your gardening chores and punch up your landscape so it is attractive to you and those who pay your garden a visit.

The book starts out with a discussion of design concepts which include keeping the garden accessible and easy to care for. After that, they list the 10 most essential garden tools for a variety of tasks.

Their section on design ideas for different types of settings -- particularly small spaces -- and climates is quite interesting and ingenious. This is followed by a chapter full of project ideas like creating container water gardens and tabletop gardens, making creative pathways, and planting beds for cut flowers, to attract pollinators or for xeriscape plantings.

The next chapter covers the basics of building your soil; how to plant, fertilize and water; and how to deal with pests naturally -- all useful stuff.

The remainder of the book is dedicated to easy-care plants. This includes perennials, annuals, ornamental grasses, bulbs, shrubs, groundcovers, vines, edible crops and ideal plants for containers. Even though the book covers many climate regions that are far warmer than Spokane, a good proportion of the plant profiles are ones that would be suitable to grow here. For example, two-thirds of the perennials they recommend would do well in our gardens.

In the appendix. there is detailed information on Sunset's western climate zones -- which show the Inland Northwest as being in their zone 2 -- and regional gardening calendars that detail when to tackle various gardening projects.

I think "The 20-Minute Gardener" is well put together for both busy and not-so-busy gardeners because it has a lot of design and plant ideas that would provide inspiration for anyone. This book would also be ideal for folks who are new to the western climate regions and for those who are budding gardeners.

Copyright 2013, Susan Mulvihill. All rights reserved.