Adventures in Texas Gardening
Adventures in Texas Gardening by Bill Scheick is not a standard gardening book, and according to the author, it’s “not even a proper gardening book.”
Instead, Scheick said, “It’s designed as a conversational, yet hopefully helpful, account of how things went for me and for some other Texan gardening addicts I met over the years.
“It’s about big gardening efforts such as transforming an entire backyard, dealing with dogs in the home landscape, coping with foraging wildlife, stumbling into pond-keeping, decontaminating a droughty veggie patch and giving up on lawns. It’s about growing an in-ground Christmas tree at home, calculating the age of a cedar elm, sculpting plants to look like little trees, raising houseplants outdoors as landscape additions, planning for winter berries, fostering vanishing bees, rethinking premature herb-flowering, pondering the why of odd black and green flowers, enjoying the night garden after speculating about the moon’s influence on what we grow.
“It’s about 10 Texans’ fascination—sometimes obsession—with prickly pears, salvias, cupheas, mini-callas, daylilies, irises, buckwheat, orchids and African violets.”
Gardening in Texas is not for the faint-hearted or weak-willed. Given the remarkable variety of soils, climate ranges, and the obstacles of stifling heat, humidity, and drought, the dedication of so many gardening enthusiasts speaks to the powerful hold plants have over people.
Scheick has been living and gardening in Texas since 1969. He has learned that the same techniques may not work even just a few miles away—let alone across the state. Every yard is different, and every challenge is unique. Even the professional gardener must rely on the trial-and-error process from time to time, and they shouldn’t be ashamed of it. He subscribes to the George Bernard Shaw school of thought, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh. . . .” He softens the blow of the ever-present challenges of gardening in this great state with his easy sense of humor.
As Scheick wrote, “The stories told here are about pushing back against gardening challenges, embracing gardening constraints, rethinking gardening possibilities and learning to care most about those plants that exhibit a can-do spirit in our Texas yards. In the course of my gardening adventures, I (with the stories of others) have zeroed in on some plants and strategies that worked. In these instances we got nature to ‘say beans’ enough times to keep our obsessions going—in my case for almost half a century in Texas.
“And what better vengeance against nature’s tilted ‘house odds’ than to recall and share some of the winning streaks? If I am lucky, these stories will be at least entertaining. If I am doubly lucky, they will prove useful, too. I think of these retellings as casual conversations exchanged among odds-savvy buddies or neighbors sympathetically supporting each other during our mutual gardening endeavors.”
Not only a gardener, Scheick has written numerous gardening articles for the Dallas Morning News, Austin-American Statesman, Native Plant Society of Texas Newsletter, Tropical Treasures Magazine and Texas Gardener, where he currently serves as a contributing editor. He has shelves full of previously read and consulted gardening books, including those he loves and those he’s reviewed for various state publications.
With a firm understanding of horticulture and a good dose of humor, Scheick offers beginning and experienced gardeners a resource for inspiration, information and commiseration as they pursue their own gardening adventures in Texas.
Adventures in Texas Gardening
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Author: Bill Scheick
Flexbound (with flaps): $26.00 ISBN # 978-1-62349-517-6
6” x 9”, 232 pp.
68 photos. Bib. Index.
Order at: www.tamupress.com or by phone at 800-826-8911
by Christine Brown Publicity and Advertising Manager Texas A&M University Press
Photos courtesy of Texas A&M University Press