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favorite gardening books:


Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs. An Illustrated Encyclopedia. 

Michael A.Dirr.


My favorite reference book.  Beautiful pictures, short, concise descriptions of plants without that ‘eastern bias’ feel, that is, a preponderance of non-southwestern trees and shrubs.  Also, it includes a section in the back called “Selecting Plants for Specific Characteristics or Purposes”.  For example, one can find a list of trees that have outstanding fall color or that have interesting texture or color of bark.  There is a list of needle leaf evergreens with their design and cultural characteristics.  Also included is a complete grouping of trees and shrubs with the month in which they flower.  Last but not least, the index has two sections.  The first has all plants alphabetized by their scientific names and the second by their common names.


Xeriscape Plant Guide. Denver Water


Best book I’ve found for researching plants that do well in Santa Fe.  It is a fully illustrated reference guide of over 100 low-water use plants.  Each plant has both a close up drawing and pictures of it’s use in the garden and landscape.  However, what I liked most, all of the plants are broken down by their “Landscape Use’, ‘Form’, ‘Native Range’, ‘Characteristics’, ‘Culture’, ‘Best Features’, ‘Companion Plants’, and ‘Disadvantages’.  


Sunset: Landscaping with Stone


If I wasn’t running the business of Thundercloud Gardening and I had the choice of any other profession, I would want to be a master stonemason.  There is something about the look, the feel, and the interplay of stone, the earth, living plants and their natural appearance in the landscape that gives me an overwhelming sense of awe and wonderment.  I found this on a bookrack at Home Depot back in 1994.  The picture on the front cover was a flagstone path surrounded by Pink Chintz thyme and a simple moss rock wall that gently meandered off into the background of the landscape.  It’s simplicity, yet beauty, captivated me so I bought it for $14.95.  It’s still one of the only stone books I’ve seen in which almost every picture gives me one of those, ‘wow, that’s beautiful’ moments.


Descriptive Nursery Catalog’ written and compiled by David Salmon and Tracy Neal


Finally, there is what I call my little‘blue book’. Actually, it is a catalog and it’s very simple in both it’s appearance and it’s presentation. It is my most used and the most important guide to local plants that I own.  It was put together by Santa Fe Greenhouse in 1993 and is called, ‘Descriptive Nursery Catalog’ written and compiled by David Salmon and Tracy Neal.  David Salmon, the past owner and president of SFGH hired me to work in their nursery in 1992. For that I am forever grateful.  Tracy Neal was the nursery manager and my boss.  To this day I’ve only met two other people in the nursery business with his depth of knowledge and interest in plants. (One of them is David Salmon). His willingness to share and teach me everything he knew gave me the inspiration and desire to become a landscaper.

I don’t know how many of these catalogs are still floating around, but I have two copies. One is still in almost mint condition in my bookcase.  The other I always carry in my briefcase. It is now held together with multiple layers of duct tape.    

favorite gardening tools:


Anything made by Corona Tools:

favorite power tools:

Over the last 23 years I’ve owned Husqvarna, Sears Craftsman, Toro, Troy-Built, Ryobi, Echo, Paulan and probably some others.  Fifteen years ago I gave up on those big box brands and make the decision to use what the Pro’s use: Stihl.  The company was founded in Stuttgart, Germany by Andreas Stihl in 1926.  He is an animation of one of the first ‘sawing machines’:



By 1929 Stihl had 20 employees and the company put out its first chainsaw with a gasoline engine.  The chainsaw had a 6 HP engine and had to be handled by two men since it weighed 101 pounds.  By 1950, they had developed the first one-man saw that weighed in at a still hefty 35 lbs.  Need less to say, they’ve been around for a long time and although one pays a premium for their equipment, they stand up to the heavy demands of commercial use. 

favorite gardening magazines: (in no particular order)


Although most people get their information from the web these days, there are still some of us that love the feel, smell, and experience of holding a magazine in our hands.  There is nothing like sitting in one’s recliner on a cold February night and leisurely reading a magazine.  There’s just something about the sound of turning that page that’s just so…real! 


Organic Gardening Magazine.  Published by Rodale Press, the people who ‘wrote the book’ on organic gardening. 


Gardens Alive.  An outstanding source for environmentally responsible gardening products.


Garden Gate Magazine.  Has no advertisements, just lots of gardening ‘how-to’ tips.  They have regular features such as the ‘Before and After Garden’, ‘Design Challenge’ and one of my favorites ‘Weed Watch’.

favorite gardening websites:


Dave’s Garden:  As described on their website:  


'Dave's Garden is the hands-down favorite website of gardeners around the world. Our articles and videos show you how to start seeds and learn how to have your best garden ever. Members can chat with other gardeners in our 217 forums, and identify your plants, pests, birds and butterflies. Here's what's happening right now in Dave's Garden...'


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