Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lemon Verbena Lady's Book Review For Timber Press--The Lavender Lover's Handbook by Sarah Berringer Bader

Lovely Front Cover of The Lavender Lover's Handbook
I got an e-mail from Timber Press recently asking if I would like to review books for them.  Heck yes!  I have purchased many books published by Timber Press over the years.  So it was a no-brainer.  Just so you know, I am not being compensated (Well, maybe a free book!) and just giving an honest review of the book.

My first review is The Lavender Lover's Handbook by Sarah Berringer Bader.  I wasn't familiar with the author so I went to the back of the book and read her biography.  Ms. Bader is the owner of Lavender at Stonegate in Oregon and has planted at least 5,000 (Bet it's more now!) lavender plants.  I didn't need to know more.  I think she is a bit obsessed and in my opinion, that's great.  From the cover (Who doesn't love an adirondack chair in a field of blooming lavender?  Maybe a swarm of bees!)  There are smaller photos at the bottom to tease what's inside.

So I'm just going to take you through the book and highlight my notes.  From the preface where Ms. Bader had her a-ha moment with lavender.  It actually happened for me with lemon verbena on a hot summer day.  I should have taken an herbal liking to an herb that had more than just one cultivar!  I guess it's not too late!

The next chapter summed up Ms. Bader's love of lavender called Lavender Obsession:  An Introduction.  I really liked her charts with bloom colors, favorite lavenders, best lavenders for humid summers, best cold weather lavenders and lavenders with the strongest scent.  She explains types of lavender and explains common names that are different throughout the world.  I'm always preaching about learning botanical names and this is one of the reasons because as long as you know the botanical name, it will be the same throughout the world!   I'm sure now that Ms. Bader is obsessed and it's a very good thing!

In Lavender in the Garden:  Landscapes, Containers and Herb Gardens this chapter gives you lists of drought tolerant plants to plant with lavender, a list of early bloomers, all season lavenders, hedges of lavender and lavenders for containers.  This chapter also gives you ideas with photos of lavenders in landscapes with perennials for inspiration.

While this book is labelled a beginner's guide, as a gardener who has killed her fair share of lavenders, I loved the next chapter called The Lavender Palette:  100 Varieties to Try.  Being an herb plant collector as well, 100 varieties of lavender give you something to find in your travels.  There is a flower color and foliage color guide.  It is really helpful to see the cultivars chosen in bloom.  Ms. Bader also highlights her top ten favorites.

Under the Care and Cultivation:  From Planting to Pruning, Harvesting and Drying chapter, the author's explanations of soil preparation, pH levels and fertilizers for lavender growing are very easy to understand.  She talks about the difference of growing lavenders from seed and cuttings with her own tested method for rooting lavender cuttings.  Ms. Bader goes into irrigation issues, insect, wildlife and disease problems.  Then she gives you a year by year (for the first three years) pruning schedule. Boy, do I need that!
How NOT to Prune Lavender!
Ms. Bader also talks about harvesting and drying lavender for the best results.  She goes into the best lavenders for culinary use and gives some good culinary recipes from herb blends like Herbes de Provence and main dishes such as Mediterranean Chicken to desserts like lavender and lemon verbena ice cream.  Think there is an additional reason for enjoying dessert!

The final chapter called Scented Creations:  Wands, Wreaths, Swags, Sachets and Beyond.  gives you a list of the best lavenders for crafts with the best color and staying power.  I especially liked the lavender wreaths, herb box, herb swag, all-purpose cleaner, lavender spray and lavender dryer sachet recipes.

There is a nice Resources section with lavender associations and festivals and mail order plant companies.  The Further Reading page had a nice list of supplemental reading including my favorite herb magazine, The Herb Companion.  Even the back cover is a wonderful field of blooming lavender.
The Lavender Continues to Bloom on the Back Cover!
While this is a very good beginner's book for lavender growing, I think it is just as good for an advanced gardener.  That 100 varieties chapter of lavender would encourage me to purchase it.  I also have really FINALLY learned how to prune my lavenders the proper way!  REALLY, I have!  Yes, Jekka in England, I have found out the correct way to prune lavender.  I think over all Ms. Bader takes into consideration different factors that go into growing lavender in the different regions of the U.S.  The only negatives that are keeping it from being a national book for me, would be the four-lined plant bug that attacks members of the mint family including lavender in sections of the mid-atlantic states and maybe the northeast and additional mail order nurseries that sell lavender in the eastern part of the country, like Well-Sweep Herb Farm in New Jersey, Companion Plants in Ohio and Sandy Mush Herb Nursery in North Carolina.  Maybe in the next edition!

I also found an online excerpt from the book at The Herb Companion website.  Overall, I highly recommend The Lavender Lover's Handbook by Sarah Berringer Bader to you.  Hope you enjoy reading it and using the lavender wisdom from Ms. Bader.  I have a vegetable book to review next time.

Finally, going to get outside.  The garden is growing like a weed and not an herb!  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.


taylorsoutback said...

Nancy - that looks like a book that needs to be in my own library...anything about lavender catches my eye! I no longer fret if the plants don't winter over - I just keep the greenhouses in business the following Spring.
Thought of you yesterday while herb shopping - came home with 10 lovely plants for the herb garden & the star of the show is Lemon Verbena...

lemonverbenalady said...

I think you would enjoy it TO! Yes, I would agree about plants not making it through. I just see it as new opportunities! Glad you got a lemon verbena. I have two that were inside coming out shortly. It is going to be cool another couple of nights and I'll keep them inside until that passes. Thanks for stopping by! xxoo Nancy

Tracey Steele said...

It looks like a lovely book. I adore lavender. I even planted some beneath the washing line so the sheets brush over it as they blow in the breeze.

lemonverbenalady said...

That sounds like a lovely idea, Tracey! Thanks for stopping by!