Books by Thomas Christopher

Released: Feb. 1, 1994

Let there be drought, proclaims Christopher (In Search of Lost Roses, 1989); let your garden bloom. And drought there is, not that Christopher has anything to do with it, but he advises gardeners nevertheless to get real and accept the fact that they can no longer expend thousands of gallons of water on their plantings. To this end, he presents an array of water-saving ideas: the slow-drip method and the use of gray (waste) water, water harvesting and clay-pot irrigation. But his greatest concern is designing gardens with an eye on the water capacity of the area. Through the use of natives and feasible exotics, Christopher shows that there is no reason to go without color and variety just because your locale is water-poor. Interviews and garden tours—from Santa Barbara to Brooklyn—make up much of the book and give it a light touch, although hard-core gardeners haven't been forgotten: species zoning, soil analysis, and effective maintenance come in for major scrutiny, and an avalanche of Latin will keep taxonomists on their toes. In Christopher's skillful hands, discussions of pittosporum and Arecastrum romanzoffianum seem like everyday stuff. His chapter on the introduction of nonnative plants—when they are invaders and when they are welcome pilgrims—neatly reveals his depth of knowledge and accessibility. Nor is he above the occasional joke (``the energy a sequoia expends in transpiration would be sufficient to launch a can of soda into low earth orbit''). Gardeners need not fear a sprinkerless future; as Christopher points out, xeriscaping by no means equals zero-scaping. (Twenty- four pp. of color photographs—not seen.) Read full book review >