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Updated: February 25, 2010 1:25 PM

Articles written by our members

Club Members: If you would like to submit an article, please email it in any format and we will get it posted here for you! There’s nothing like a testimonial to get people interested in a book. Of course the librarian is going to tell you how great the library books are, but when a member also finds the books impressive, it’s worth knowing about. If you are interested in writing one of the monthly reviews, that’s also a possibility. Let Karen know of your interest.

The Cascade Cactus and Succulent Society of Washington maintains a library of resource materials available to our members. If you would like to check out a book reviewed in The Point or to request materials on a certain topic, please contact our librarian, Karen Summers. Library materials are also available at most meetings.

  • Book Review - January 2010
  • Carnivorous Plants of the World by James and Patricia Pietropaolo.

    This is a fascinating book about intriguing plants. The authors at the time of publishing in 1986 were science teachers and the owners of Peter Paul Nurseries, a source for carnivorous plants. They brought over 25 years of experience with 125 species of plants to their writing. This thorough book includes information on cultivation, hybridization, pests and diseases, and indoor and outdoor cultivation. (A friend of mine has a pot of carnivorous plants which have thrived at the bottom of a downspout for about 5 years now. )

    There are 57 color photographs of the plants and the ones in flower are especially appealing.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review -November 2009
  • Ariocarpus et cetera, The special, smaller genera of Mexican cacti by John Pilbeam and Bill Weightman.

    With a price tag of $84.95, this book just has to be worth reading! It was bought overseas, but I’m not sure where.

    Given the authors, you know this will be a good book – and it is. I like the title they originally thought of: ‘Ariocarpus and those other genera that, if you like Ariocarpus, will also probably appeal to you’. That really tells you what this book is about. The authors of this book have spent most of their lives researching these plants and have a great passion for them. All but one of the plants in this book is native to Mexico with plants primarily from the states of San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Tamaulipas. There’s some straying into other states because one just can’t draw a hard boundary when it comes to cactus.

    What you will find in this book are stunning color photographs by Bill Weightman, with shots showing the entire plant and surroundings then closing in on exquisite details. Descriptions of the plant include locations and cultivation information.

    Warning: Reading this book will cause you to check out Expedia’s prices for travel to Mexico.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - October 2009
  • The Genus Lewisia by Brian Mathew.

    The first time I saw a Lewisia was in its natural habitat in the hills off the Yakima River Road. The pink flowers dominated the rocky ridgeline, and I was struck by the harshness of the environment these plants were thriving in. The Lewisia is a plant you can introduce into your own collection with some careful attention.

    The book does an excellent job describing how to cultivate this genus, even tips for specific species as each one has its own needs. The book notes Lewisia is known to hybridize easily and spontaneously. However, the majority of your hybrids will be sterile. Fortunately the book does a good job describing several ways to cultivate and propagate this plant.

    The illustrations in the book are well done, and the photo plates do the plants justice. The maps showing distribution are helpful, especially if you are planning a trip to locate this native plant. (A little known fact, the whole purpose of Lewis and Clark’s trip was for Lewis to find a plant to name after himself.) If the Lewisia is a plant you want to get to know better you would do well to engage this text in your journey.

    Reviewed by: Bill Hickey, Guest Reviewer

  • Book Review - August 2009
  • The Genera Pediocactus – Navajoa – Toumeya Cactacea, Revised, In the Shadow of the Rocky Mountains by Fritz Hochstatter. Published 1995.

    For title alone, this book is notable. The content of the book is a result of 15 years of field trips studying Sclerocacrus, Pediocacus, Navajoa and Toumeya. Of course, the author’s search for Pediocactus brought him into the Northwest, thus the choice of this book for spotlighting. The book is quite thorough in describing each of these genera – line drawings of the plants in cross section show variations in the plant structure. There are also drawings of spines, flowers, roots and all plant parts. There are photographs of the plants along with a short piece of information such as what the plant is growing in, where it was located, what it was near. If you’d like more information on our native cactus then I highly recommend this book.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - July 2009
  • The Peyote Cult by Weston La Barre

    This fascinating book is based on field work done starting in the summer of 1935 with Native American tribes using peyote in ceremonies. The researcher/author accounts the use of peyote in meetings, describes its affects, and purposes. In addition it tracks the legal process of outlawing these ceremonies.

    I highly recommend this book if traditional Native American practices are of interest to you – as well as learning more about this small and lovely cactus that is integrally part of some tribes’ heritage and of great legal concern . The book was written in 1964 but certainly not dated due to the account of historical information.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - May 2009
  • High and Dry by Robert Nold

    First of all, I’d be inclined to add the author’s wife to the above information because she is the photographer and artist who has illustrated this book. It’s worth checking out this book just to see her beautiful watercolor illustrations peppered throughout the text.

    This is a book about gardening with cold-hardy dryland plants. It’s ideally written for gardeners in the interior West, however there is much to be gained from it for growing in our area. Those who have already had some experience growing succulents outdoors can make even more use of this author’s information. His information is thorough and covers dry land plants from grasses and bulbs to shrubs and trees. Specific to succulents are chapters on rock garden plants, cacti and yuccas. However, if trying a xerophytic garden, the suggestions for perennials and grasses would blend nicely with the succulents suggested.

    There is a lot of experience-based advice from Nold, delivered in a friendly text. One of my favorite quotes: “It’s difficult to find a volunteer to weed around the Opuntia”. He’s a dryland plant gardener who knows what he’s talking about.

    I think you will find this book helpful in your garden overall – and especially in blending succulents with other plants. And take a look at the watercolors, if nothing else.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - April 2009
  • Hardy Succulents by Gwen Moore Kelaidis.

    If you are a gardener, you are going to want to plant something after reading this book. Just to give you an idea of topics covered, here’s the chapter listing: Companions and Stars (talks about hardiness), Tiny Gems (ice plants, orostachys, sedums, etc), Containers, Succulent Ground Covers, Perennial Companions (sedums for shade, compact sedums, etc) Shrublike Selections (yuccas, agaves, prickly pears, ear grass, etc), Planting, Propagation, and Care (how to plant, keep them neat, pests and disease).

    If you are interested in doing more outdoors with succulents, then you will love this book. The photos are beautiful and highly motivational. Plus there is an entire page devoted to not touching cactus – and what to do if you do.

    The author has a short section on making your own hypertuffa pots – not so difficult it seems. She also covers design, which plants go together, how to create certain effects, etc. Check this book out just for the photos if nothing else.

    If you would like to check out this book or any other from the club library, contact Karen Summers at klsumm@hotmail.com or 206-365-0315. Books can be delivered to the next meeting or made available for pick-up.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - March 2009
  • Agaves, Yuccas, and Related Plants, A Gardener’s Guide by Mary and Gary Irish

    For those who are interested in adding Agaves and Yuccas to their perennial garden or establishing a desert garden, this book provides lots of useful information. Mary Irish is the former director of public horticulture at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. She knows her stuff when it comes to growing these plants. There is a three page section on growing these plants in a humid, cold environment which for the purposes of this book is Raleigh, NC or Hempstead, TX. The listing of plants that work there might provide a starting place for us in the Northwest.

    Each plant is provided a full description including common names, the size, description of the leaves and bloom, the natural distribution of the plant, propagation methods, cultural requirements, similar or related species and uses.

    There are over 100 color photos taken by Gary Irish – and some lovely drawings for those who wish to admire sketches of plants done by a skilled artist.

    If you would like to check out this book or any other from the club library, contact Karen Summers at klsumm@hotmail.com or 206-365-0315. Books can be delivered to the next meeting or made available for pick-up.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - February 2009
  • The Garden Succulents Primer by Gideon Smith and Ben-Erik Van Wyk.

    The sub title of this book – How to identify and grow the most popular drought-tolerant plants- says it all.

    The authors strove to restrict themselves to the succulents commonly grown in gardens* for the purpose of this “primer”. This excludes some beautiful and wonderful succulents – but if you are looking specifically for ones grown in gardens then you won’t have to wade through all of those other plants in this book.

    The book has some short introductory chapters on general succulent information such as propagation, cultivation and uses. Then it moves into a comprehensive discussion of various families of succulent plants, which are usually easily recognized. Each plant has a good quality close up photo with a paragraph description.

    The book wraps up with a listing of all the plants and their country of origin for a quick reminder of their general location.

    *Note to the Northwest gardener – many of these plants would not live in our cool, damp gardens for long – but they grow in someone’s garden so they are in the book.

    If you would like to check out this book or any other from the club library, contact Karen Summers at klsumm@hotmail.com or 206-365-0315. Books can be delivered to the next meeting or made available for pick-up.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - January 2009
  • 500 Cacti: Species and Varieties in Cultivation by Ken Preston-Mafham.

    This book, published in 2007, has just been added to our library. It describes more than 500 species of cacti that are usually available for purchase from garden stores and specialist nurseries. The author has included popular genera or those that are gaining in popularity in greater detail than those which are less in demand – or not in demand at all. He even includes a list of what he didn’t include and why.

    The text accompanying each lovely close up color photograph is easy to read and understand – conversational in tone. For beginners this book would provide guidance in good plants to purchase. For those of us who aren’t beginners but still have room to increase our general knowledge about our plants, this book is an enjoyable, easy way to do so. It also gives some good ideas of cacti one might want to add to a collection.

    If you would like to check out this book or any other from the club library, contact Karen Summers at klsumm@hotmail.com or 206-365-0315. Books can be delivered to the next meeting or made available for pick-up.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review -August 2008
  • The Native Cacti of California, by Lyman Benson, 1969, Stanford University Press.

    I’ve written up this book for those of you who will be traveling to the natural environs of California. This is a handy book for identifying plants and knowing what you might look for. Distribution maps let you know what you might find in a particular area or areas you might want to visit. There are photos and drawings of the plants to help with identification.

    This book is a cut above the usual plant identification book since it includes some more technical information that the collector will appreciate.

    If you are going to have an opportunity to visit the wilder parts of California, this book would be an asset. It’s not too heavy, so should fit easily into your one checked bag.

    If you would like to check out this book or any other from the club library, contact Karen Summers at klsumm@hotmail.com or 206-365-0315. Books can be delivered to the next meeting or made available for pick-up.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - July 2008
  • The Cactus Primer, by Arthur C. Gibson and Park S. Nobel, 1986. Harvard University Press.

    Brush up on your cactus biology with this book designed for the amateur collector. If you want something more than care, cultivation, and propagation of your plants then consider this book. You can learn about the form, physiology, evolution and ecology of cacti. There are some excellent drawings and enhanced photos used in the education process.

    If you slept through high school botany, you might want to check out this book to get a deeper understanding of the inner workings of your cactus.

    If you would like to check out this book or any other from the club library, contact Karen Summers at klsumm@hotmail.com or 206-365-0315. Books can be delivered to the next meeting or made available for pick-up.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - June 2008
  • The New Cactus Lexicon, Descriptions and Illustrations of the Cactus Family, compiled and edited by David Hunt with assistance of Nigel Taylor and Graham Charles, 2006. Text & Atlas of Illustrations.

    Have you been putting off checking into whether the plant you got at the club’s holiday gift exchange is a Mammillaria spinosissima or a Mammillaria xaltianguensis? Are the Stenocereus cacti you grew from seen beginning to look more like Corryocactus? Or maybe you are just like me and have been thinking it would be a good idea to put a name to a few of the unknown plants on the windowsill.

    Regardless, these are the books for you. 7,700 names are included in the Text with 2,500 photos in the Atlas. Your cactus is bound to be one of them. Close up photos in the Atlas give you the detail you need to look for on your plants. Then grab the Text to confirm the verbal description of the plant. Speaking for myself, the photos are the most enticing part of this two part set. Even if the reader isn’t trying to name plants, the Atlas is worth a look through to see the incredible array of cacti that exist. Perhaps it could inform the next buying spree or cause one to switch from collecting Euphorbias to Parodias. Regardless of why you choose to check this book out of the library, it is a worthy choice. You can select the Atlas or Text if you’d rather not check out both.

    If you would like to check out this book or any other from the club library, contact Karen Summers at klsumm "at" hotmail.com. Books can be delivered to the next meeting or made available for pick-up.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - May 2008
  • Designing with Succulents by Debra Lee Baldwin, 2007.

    It’s time to work in the yard and this book will give the reader an artistic nudge. Baldwin is a succulent gardener herself with insight into what works best for these plants and how to combine them in a striking garden. She provides information on garden design and varieties that make interesting viewing in combination. Amazing photos demonstrate creative designs using succulents. Of special interest to those in the club might be the chapter entitled Pots, Wreaths, and Container Gardens – portable things that can be brought indoors if necessary. There are some beautiful examples of ways to combine succulents to create an artistic design. There is also a topiary beach ball and purse made of succulents – something for everyone!
    I highly recommend this book for anyone who plants succulents outdoors or would like to try to create an outdoor garden – even a small container garden for the deck. It might be small but it will be spectacular with help from this book. With 255 pages, the book can be enjoyed for reading, perusing, or used as a reference book.

    If you would like to check out this book or any other from the club library, contact Karen Summers at klsumm "at" hotmail.com. Books can be delivered to the next meeting or made available for pick-up.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - April 2008
  • A World of Plants, Treasures from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew by Heather Angel, 1993.

    Save your airfare and visit Kew Gardens through this book. Angel has combined over 150 photographs with easily read text to bring the reader gorgeous flowers, stunning and rare plants, and of course, succulents. Initially the author covers the fascinating history of Kew Gardens, and then creates chapters based on plant habitat. There’s something for everyone in the Temperate Forest, Montane Plants, or Grassland Plants. Of special interest to our club is the Desert Plants section in which Angel has included detailed close ups capturing the beauty of plants such as Pelecyphora aselliformis, Furcraea selloana, and Lophophora williamsii.

    With 160 pages this book is interesting as a picture book or for more in depth knowledge the reader can delve into the text.

    If you would like to check out this book or any other from the club library, contact Karen Summers at klsumm "at" hotmail.com. Books can be delivered to the next meeting or made available for pick-up.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - March 2008
  • The Remarkable Baobab by Thomas Pakenham, 2004

    Pakenham is known for his work dramatizing trees around the word through written word and photographs. It was in the course of writing “Remarkable Trees of the World” that Pakenham first encountered one of the elephantine baobabs of South Africa and fell in love. This book is a beautiful testimony to his great affection for this stunning tree. For eight years, he searched the world for the most striking baobabs resulting in a representation that covers Africa, Madagascar, Australia, the Caribbean, and the US. The reader can simply savor the exceptional photography or dig into the text for more depth. The easily read storyline accompanying each of the baobabs reveals the place the tree inhabits. The locale, the history, or some other aspect brings the tree to life. Pakenham’s personal regard for each of his selected baobabs is apparent.

    Having recently been to Africa and seen these unusual trees growing in “forests” myself, I especially enjoyed the photos of trees in groups. One baobab is a work of art, a grove of them is something unimaginable until seen.

    This book is 142 pages long, with over half of the pages being photographs.

    If you would like to check out this book or any other from the club library, contact Karen Summers at klsumm "at" hotmail.com. Books can be delivered to the next meeting or made available for pick-up.

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - February 2008
  • Zygocactus (Schlumbergera), A Comprehensive and Practical Guide for the Weekend Gardener Written by: Mark E. Cobia, 1992.

    This is a fun book with beautiful color photos of the various colors of Schlumbergera one might encounter. It starts off with a segment on Culture which has good basic information on these easy to care for succulents. This is followed by several interesting and easily understood chapters on Schlumbergera production around the world and new varieties in development. My favorite part of this book is the chapter entitled Varietal Descriptions. Such a dry sounding name doesn't prepare the reader for the brightly colored photos that follow with interesting information about each variety. This book has a total of 58 pages, so it's a quick read, even if one lingers over the photos of the new types of Schlumbergera hybrids. Imagine a bud that's twice as large as the traditional one, with color showing earlier and a more upright plant that needs pruning. (Note, they were new in 1992, perhaps not so new now, but still lovely).

    Reviewed by: Karen Summers, CCSS Librarian

  • Book Review - February 2003
  • Cacti - A Wisley Handbook. Written by: Innes, Clive.
    Copyright 1987, Second Impression 1988 . For the Royal Horticulture Society by Cassell Educational Limited, London.

    This booklet was added to our library in February 2003 from books acquired in 2002 from Dixie Dringman.

    The Royal Horticulture Society exists to encourage and improve all forms of horticulture. The Soceity maintains a 250 acre garden at Wisley, near Woking, Surrey, which is open to the members and the public. The Society also has headquarters and a library in London.

    This is one of a practical series of fifty booklets offering a simple but comprehensive guide to a particular aspect of gardening, with easy to follow advice, invaluable to the amateur gardener. Each booklet in the series is written by an expert in that field and has helpful illustrations.

    "Cacti" has 64 pages. It's table of contents lists: Introduction, Geographic distribution, Cultivation (Cacti in the greenhouse, in the home, in the garden), Propagation (Seed cuttings and offsets, Grafting) , Pests and Diseases, Directory of Cacti (Epiphytic Cacti, Desert Cacti), and Suppliers. It contains 38 excellent photographs in color.

    If you are new to the cactus hobby, this booklet will be of help to you. If you visit England, be sure to include a visit to the RHS garden at Wisley.

    Reviewed by: Dorothy Collias

  • Book Review - November 21st, 2002

    Cactus and Succulents - a care manual. Written by: Mace, Tony and Suzanne. Published: 1998 by Laurel Glen Publishing , San Diego, CA.
    ISBN 1-57145-619-8

    Chalk it up to newbie enthusiasm, but here is another book I've just read.

    This book, like others targeted toward beginning hobbyists, cover much of the same general knowledge. However, there is great value in reinforcement, right? You'll find the definition of succulents and cacti, growth forms, propagation, and general cultivation. There is an interesting section that discusses some of the myths, folklore, and so-called urban legends associated with these plants. Large color photographs abound. There is a great, larger than life, 9" x 11" photo of a plant covered with "Public Enemy #1", the mealy bug.

    Most valuable is the "Plant Dictionary" section, which comprises the last half of this 128 page book. The treatment of the genus is concise. Tony and Suzanne give lots of information on the physical characteristics. This really helps those of us who are learning to differentiate between the types of cacti. Also, there is information on what to expect while in one's care. I find statements like "they are not difficult to grow..." or, "...reluctant to flower," particularly welcome. Within the text of each genus a few species are discussed.

    I enjoyed this book and do not feel it redundant in the company of other general knowledge books. Beginniers should definitely put this on their reading list.

    Reviewed by: Jean Clements-Macak

  • Book Review - November 19th, 2002

    The Complete Book of Cacti and Succulents - The definitive practical guide to cultivation, propagation, and display. Written by: Hewitt, Terry.
    Published: 1997 by DK Publishing , New York, NY.
    ISBN 0-7894-1657-3

    Three words aptly describe this book: pictures, pictures, pictures!

    There are plenty of vivd, lifesize photographs throughout this book. It gets a recommendation from me, on that alone. This 176 page book is organized into 4 main parts: Anatomy and Discovery, Style Guide, Plant Catalog, and Care and Cultivation.

    Unlike many encyclopedic or dictionary type books, The Complete Book of Cacti and Succulents spends over twenty pages on aesthetics. This is great! It discusses shapes, color, harmony and display with lovely illustrations of each.

    Pictures in the Cactus and Succulent genus sections are spectacular. The section covering care and propagation is clear and helpful. Toward the end, there is a plant selection list divided into several categories, among them...beginner, enthusiast, and architectural.

    The subject matter in this book may not excite the experienced hobbyist, but everyone will appreciate the photographs. I am glad I added it to my library.

    Reviewed by: Jean Clements-Macak

  • Book Review - November 16th, 2002

    House Plants, Cacti and Succulents. Written by: Huxley, Anthony.
    Published: 1972 by The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, London.
    ISBN 0-600-34372-3

    This book is a recent edition from an eBay auction. This title, had for just a few dollars, worked out well. Suitable for beginners in the hobby.

    The first half of this 133 page book concerns itself with the general care and description of common house plants. While informative, it is not particularly useful to the cactus/succulent enthusiast. However, the payoff occurs in the second part of the book. Huxley defines succulents, covers several families, describes care, disease/pests, and treatment. It is my understanding that succulent and particularly cactus classification has undergone numerous name changes. Therefore this would provide some reference to the "state of affairs" in the early 70s.

    In addition to above mentioned topics, Huxley provides a list of succulent genera with a key that includes maximum and minimum temperatures, resting period, and propagation methods. This is useful.

    Houseplants, Cacti and Succulents is easy to read. It is well organized and has a logical flow. The author has a pleasant writing style. Often, facts are interspersed with interesting trivia. Photos are in black and white as well as color. In addition, line drawings are included.

    Reviewed by: Jean Clements-Macak

  • Book Review - November 15th, 2002

    The Genus Ferocactus, Taxonomy & Ecology; Explorations in the USA & Mexico. Written by: Lindsay, George, et al.
    Copyright 1996 by Tireless Termites Press. ISBN 0-9654359-0-3

    This book has George Lindsay's 1995 doctoral thesis, The Taxonomy and Ecology of the Genus Ferocactus, as it's core. To round it out, there are updates and other contributions, all with Dr. Lindsay's blessing. These include a biography, interesting color photos, botanical illustrations, tips on propagation, an illustrated glossary, a table summarizing Ferocactus distribution, a listing of Ferocactus synonyms, and a chapter on current taxonomy research involving analyses of DNA to arrange the taxa tree.

    George Lindsay and the editors were interested in how molecular studies being performed by Hugo Cota at Iowa State University would clarify the phylogenetic relationships of Ferocacti. Despite a heavy schedule, Hugo made time to write a chapter describing his current work. This work will bring about a rearrangement of the genus and will serve as a model for work on other genera.

    It is hoped that this book can serve as a pocketable field guide, be useful to the gardener, and bring one up to date on laboratory techniques, which when backed with field work can be used to trace what was thought to be untraceable a decade ago.

    This is a book newly added to our library from books we acquired from Dixie Dringman. It is the only book on Ferocactus in our library. George Lindsay's recent death (reported in the Vol.4, No. 5 issue of To the Point, Supplement to the CSSA Cactus and Succulent Journal) prompted this book report. George contributed so much to the cactus world in person and with his books and his great interest in Ferocactus.

    Reviewed/Compiled by: Dorothy Collias

  • Book Review

    List of Southern African Succulent Plants, 1st edition
    Smith, G. et al, editors
    1997, 175 pages

    As the title suggests, this book is a list of the 58 plant families found in southern Africa. The book also includes distribution maps and eight full-page color drawings. The book is a vital reference on touring trips for the correct spelling of plant names and the useful distribution maps. A softbound copy of this book was donated to the Society for the regional meeting's auction by the publisher of UMDAUS Press, Alex Fick. The hardbound copy is $39.95 at Rainbow Garden.

    Reviewed by: Peter V Gammarano, President





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