This week on the GROBigRed Blog we are celebrating National Library Lover’s Month and the books that we love to use. I want to share two of my go-to books and a new addition that I am excited to have this year.
Field Guide to Wildflowers of Nebraska and the Great Plains (ISBN 978-1-60938-071-7) by Jon Farrar has quickly become one of my best diagnostic tools on my desk. Many books used for plant identification have only a few color plates then dive into black and white drawings. This book is all color photographs of the plants in their natural settings. What I find most helpful is the books is divided into flower color where as many are by botanical families. If you are lucky enough to have the flower in front of you all you need to do is jump to the section that matches the color. Keep in mind that not every flower will appear with the same color intensity as in the book due to natural variation and growing conditions. What you will find missing in this book is the lack of botanical jargon that can sometimes confuse the most well versed plant sleuth. The author does provide the botanical name along with flower time, area of the state where found and other pertinent information. This is not a book that I would recommend when someone wants to identify a lawn or landscape weed.
Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants by Pascal Pirone has been my go to book for the past 15 years. Originally published in 1948 and last updated in 1978 this book is a timeless classic for many issues with ornamental plants. The book is direct and concise in regards to plant problems. Being 40 years old the book is still relevant to today’s gardeners and professionals. The pesticide recommendations are outdated and many are no longer on the market. However, skipping over that minor issue the book will easily guide you through potential issues and recommendations. The books is also missing color photographs that you find in many current diagnostic books. Nomenclature of pathogens have changed and are not reflected. When it comes to plant problems this is the book I reach for.
Pollinators of Native Plants (ISBN 978-0-9913563-0) by Heather Holm is the newest book to my collection and one I am the most excited about. This book is an excellent tool when it comes to plant selection and what pollinators are often found on it. Plants are divided into habitat (woodland, prairie, wetland, etc.) listed in alphabetical order by botanical name. What I love about this book is the small details that are often missing in other diagnostic guides. You will find the bloom time range (because Mother Nature doesn’t follow a calendar), height, color, sun exposure, preferred soil type and insect/plant interaction. What is even more enjoyable is the focus on non-bee pollinators. You will find information on flies, beetles, moths and butterflies. It is a great holistic book if you are looking to transform your landscape in to a pollinator oasis.