Heirloom Plants: A Complete Compendium of Heritage Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs & Flowers

Thomas Etty and Lorraine Harrison. Chicago Review, $29.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-61373-575-6
Based on the catalogs of Etty, a 19th century seed merchant, and the modern-day experience of garden writer Harrison (Latin for Gardeners), this book offers a detailed and comprehensive exploration of the value of preserving heirloom plant varieties and keeping good “seed lines” robust. (An heirloom or “heritage” plant is one that has been open-pollinated and spread by nature for more than 50 years.) The premise of the book is that the quality of food and flowers is directly informed by the caliber of the seed. Observing that “so much of what gardeners do is about the future,” the book issues a “clarion call” to devoted gardeners to prevent the extinction of choice specimens and keep pure lines in the game. It includes an abundance of classic botanical drawings, quaint historical tidbits, and general how-to horticultural guidance. This encyclopedic delineation of “directories” of vegetable, fruit, herbs, and flowers offers practical help to the gardener who’s interested in preserving heirloom cultivars and turning a green-thumb hobby into an all-out mission. Color illus. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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