From sourdough to home improvement projects, the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a renaissance in everyday creativity.
Gardening has also grown in popularity over the past year, and that’s a good thing, said Linda Chalker-Scott, an urban gardener and professor in the Department of Horticulture at Washington State University. Gardening, she said, “is great for your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.”
Chalker-Scott’s latest book fits the time perfectly.
Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest was recently published with great success in a heavily revised and updated third edition. The richly illustrated book received the 2020 Award of Excellence in Gardening and Gardens from the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries, while Chalker-Scott received the RW Harris Author’s Citation Award from the International Society of Arboriculture.
Gardening with Native Plants was originally published in 1986 by the University of Washington Press and authored by longtime UW botanist Arthur Kruckeberg with a second revised edition in 2006. The third edition, according to Chalker-Scott, was a monumental eight-year project.
Chalker-Scott is an internationally recognized horticultural science expert and prolific writer. She is a founding member of Garden Professors ‘respected blogging team that answers gardeners’ questions (and the myths of gardening) with science, and is the author of numerous extension publications covering a variety of topics related to gardening and plant health.
Chalker-Scott was hired by the editorial staff of UW Press to revise the book for a new edition. Because of her expertise, she was the natural choice. “I was very flattered. I brought the practical science behind gardening into the new edition, ”she said, relying on a team of experts to make the book something completely new.
Two views 40 years apart from Linda Chalker-Scott and her husband Jim: 1980 and 2020.
Chalker-Scott said she knew Art Kruckeberg socially when she was a faculty member at UW in the late ’90s and early’ 00s. “He was already retired,” she said. The first and second editions of Gardening with Native Plants were “always bestsellers, but by the time of a third edition it was in the 90s”.
When Kruckeberg was first published 35 years ago, the original edition contained descriptions and black and white illustrations of around 250 plants. The third edition describes a whopping 900 plants, all with color photos that had to be procured. To further complicate matters, over the past few decades molecular genetics has turned our understanding of plant kinship on its head and changed the names of entire plant families, “much to the frustration of gardeners and scientists alike,” writes Chalker-Scott in the Foreword .
Richard Olmstead, a UW biologist, wrote the preface for the new edition and directed the taxonomic revisions, providing both new and old scientific names.
Almost a thousand color photos were donated for the book, a monumental assignment curated by Sami Gray. Chalker-Scott said she met Gray through the Gardening Professors’ Facebook group, a coincidence that also led to Gray writing descriptions of the new plants. “Sami is a great writer in her own way,” said Chalker-Scott, “who was able to channel Art’s voice so precisely” that “you can barely tell which entries are hers and which are Art I can’t believe how lucky I was to find her. “
One thing that has been left out in the new edition is the location of native plant populations. “Damage has been done all over the world,” said Chalker-Scott. “Art would describe places and how to collect seeds without digging them up,” she adds, although most collectors are ethically correct, it only takes a tiny minority to “decimate and damage” a microenvironment “through intrusion” . Also, “native nurseries are local by definition, so support them. There is a lot of information available on “how to propagate native plants” in home gardens.
Chalker-Scott said she had always been a gardener but didn’t really get into science until she realized how little scientific information was available. In addition to her many short pieces that explode gardening myths (and which have been collected in two volumes by the UW Press), she is also the author of How Plants Work, an easily accessible explanation of plant growth and development, health, and photosynthesis. Your free extension publication on scientific literacy for citizen scientists is a must-have in an era of conspiracy folklore and is used in courses on philosophy of science.
“When we’re back to normal,” said Chalker-Scott, “I hope people don’t quit gardening. If you can understand the science, you won’t get frustrated or waste money. “