East Bay Beginner

arlocatMay 31, 2011

I'm looking for a good, basic gardening book as a gift for my son. He and his wife just bought their first house and are working to get the yard in order. They live in Alameda so I'm looking for a book specific to the area.

I'm from Wisconsin. I know nothing about California plants or micro-climates so it is hard for me to judge the contents of a book.

I found a recommendation for a book by Bauer titled "The Habitat Garden Book : Wildlife Landscaping for the San Francisco Bay Region." It looks good to me!

Does anyone have a good recommendation for me?


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bahia(SF Bay Area)

If they don't already have a copy of the Sunset Western Garden Book, this is the "bible" for a general reference book for California/West Coast gardening. You can't beat this one for covering a broad range of issues. Bob Perry's book, Landscape Plants for California Gardens is also a good general reference book, as is the book published by our local water district, EBMUD, titled Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates of the San Francisco Bay Region.

If you wanted to do something other than a book as a gift, I'd highly recommend a gift certificate from our local treasure of a nursery, Annie's Annuals Nursery at www.anniesannuals.com. If they have never been there before, it will blow them away with the diversity of plant offerings, from California natives to rare exotics from around the world that will grow here in the Bay Area. A couples membership to the University of California at Berkeley Botanic Garden could also be a great gift idea...

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 10:46PM
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Wow. That is exactly the sort of information I had hoped for and more. They are so excited about getting the yard in shape, but as beginners they have limited knowledge of California gardening.

I'll definitely check out Annie's. It sounds like a place they'd enjoy.

Thanks so much Bahia.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 7:57PM
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kristineca(z10 CA (Coast))

Wow. Bahia is on it when it comes to all that is good and excellent about California gardening in the East Bay. I live in Santa Barbara, and before my daughter moved to Berkeley 3 years ago, I used to make the 350 mile trip to Annies. I ordered PLENTY from them online, but going to the nursery is quite inspiring. Now I get to go regularly. I know comparisons are not a good idea, but I've started gardens now for my daughter in two different apartments. Compared to Santa Barbara, Berkeley gardens practically grow themselves. I live on the coast so it's not about different weather as much as the soil and water quality, which are much better, IMO, in the East Bay.

I'm originally from Michigan and have grown to love CA gardening. Your kids are lucky to be gardening in Alameda. Also, I second the Sunset Western Gardening Book. While there's lots of stuff about plants online, there's something comforting about a reference book.

Check out Annie's Annuals site, not just for a gift certificate, but for inspiration for your own garden. Lots of great pictures and ideas.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 8:22PM
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I will look forward to seeing their gardens as well as their new house. I'm intrigued by Annie's. I may have to check it out on our next visit.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:29PM
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lisascenic Urban Gardener, Oakland CA

Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Peirce.

Breaks things down by seasons, which are very different from the rest of the country.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 10:23PM
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Second the vote for "Golden Gate Gardening" if they're interested in growing a veggie garden.

And also wanted to mention Berkeley Hort, a wonderful nursery with everything from edibles to landscape plants and a lot of knowledgeable sales people who can educate your son and DIL on their new climate. They have several books for sale at their counter that are bay area focused, in addition to Golden Gate Gardening.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 2:38AM
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What am I doing? On second thought, maybe I shouldn't be supplying them with information to help them stay on the west coast. Look at all the nice frigid winters they'll miss back here in the midwest.

Thanks for your information and responses. They are appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 7:29PM
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I'd recommend Gaia's Garden, it's about permaculture and working with the land, (thereby making things easier on you). It's not region specific, just a good book.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gaia's Garden

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 1:32AM
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norcal916(USDA 9 / Sunset 14)

I also agree that the Sunset Western Garden Book is a must have and is known as the 'garden bible' for west coast gardening. It's got a ton of information and is my foundation garden book.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 1:15AM
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I've ordered the Sunset Western Garden Book for now and will send cash along with your garden center recommendations. I'll keep the other titles for later reference.

Again, my thanks to all.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 6:54PM
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As a former Berkeleyite, what Bahia said is right on the money.
I should also mention that I've placed numerous orders from Annie's and never been disappointed.
The Sunset Western Garden Book is key in many ways. When your gardening experience comes from colder climates back east (as mine did originally), what you always worry about is whether any planting can survive the winter. Indeed, the official US climate zones are based on this issue.
For many of us, the Sunset Book was our first introduction to the opposite problem -- or even the idea that the opposite problem existed. For me, it was a revelation that there might be plants that wouldn't survive August, rather than January. Alameda, however, is spared the worst of hot summers, I suspect.


PS: Come west and visit your family in, say, February, and see if you're not tempted to stick around!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 11:31PM
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