The setting for this gardening book is one of the most beautiful locations in North America, situated on the northeastern tip of the continent, northeast of the US State of Maine. It is known as the Maritime Provinces or Atlantic Canada. Here is where family members of the 32nd president of the USA, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, spent their summers; it is the birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, and of actor Donald Sutherland. Wise celebrities who keep vacation homes in the area include Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Paul Simon and Billy Joel. This picturesque swath of the continent includes the eastern tip of Quebec as well as the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick..
Postcards of Atlantic Canada's scenery depict blue skies, sandy or craggy beaches, green rolling meadows and high tides. Because it protrudes into the North Atlantic, it is warmed by the Gulf Stream that sweeps up from Mexico before making a right turn towards Europe. While this meteorological phenomenon keeps some spots in Atlantic Canada slightly balmier than one might imagine, it also brings the tail end of searing hurricane winds in late summer, usually accompanied by strong rains. Winters can be a cornucopia of every gardener's nightmare: - Snow storms are not uncommon in April, and winter temperatures range from thaw to deep freeze. Add to these climate conditions, hungry deer, slugs, and a soil that is rocky, acidic, and heavy with waterlogged clay and a challenging environment for gardening is created.
That challenge has been taken up by the author, who lives and gardens in Nova Scotia. This is where she test-grew hundreds of plants and catalogued a selection of those that thrive favorably under harsh growing conditions. Ms. DeLong recommends about 40 trees and shrubs and over 70 perennials. Most of the plants are those that I too have grown successfully in a cold climate. It is validating to see that another gardener also appreciates their contribution.
Up until now, these plants have been the key to our successes and now Ms. DeLong is sharing that "secret" with the public. Discovering what works in her growing zone must have been a labor of love because the recommended plants are beautiful in their own right and even more impressive when combined with each other. These are the handsome work horse plants that make gardens and gardeners look good. Readers are given essential technical plant specs such as growing requirements, hardiness, height, and bloom period. A detailed hardiness map for Atlantic Canada is also supplied, as are appendices for deer resistant plants, plants for pollinators, salt and drought-tolerant plants and plants for moist or wet soil.
The first impression I got, when I unwrapped this publication is that it celebrates the physical experience of touching and reading real books. The glossy cover is illustrated with a powerful, eye catching, close up photo of a monarch butterfly feeding on an echinacea flower, the interior graphic design is talented and impressive, not only in execution but in the choice of colors used to differentiate distinct sections of the text. The pages have a sensuous, shiny feel that makes one's fingers linger.
Ms. DeLong writes in a warm and intimate style so that what may have begun as a manual, reads like a letter to a dear friend. This valuable and enjoyable reference book ought to be on the shelves of every public library in the north east where growing conditions are challenging. It is also an impressive gift.