Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2007 Issue

The Bloomin' Desert: A Book Review

Bloomin

The Bloomin' Desert by Karen Wright, alias Juniper Rose.


By Michael Stillman

Just released is a new book for desert (and other) gardeners, The Bloomin' Desert, by Juniper Rose. "Juniper Rose" is actually Karen Wright, who could accurately be described as a Renaissance Gardener. Not only has she managed her own gardens for decades, she is head gardener for the historic Gold Hill Hotel in Virginia City, Nevada (Bonanza's Cartwrights might have stayed there if they were real people), columnist for that city's Comstock Chronicle, bookseller and owner of The Wright Book, and writer for AE Monthly.

The Bloomin' Desert is written for gardeners in the high deserts, but the advice will apply to those who till the soil just about anywhere in the world. To paraphrase New York, New York, if you can garden here, you can garden anywhere. Gardening in the high desert is nothing like gardening in the tropical soil of Florida, the rich dirt of the Midwest, or even the crisp air of New England. No, gardening in the desert is like gardening on the moon. The most common "nutrients" in the soil are salt and various alkaline substances, water does not exist, temperatures range from so hot as to kill any rational forms of life to so cold as to freeze dry them, often all within the same day, and the winds will bowl over any plant that attempts to stand upright. Indeed, if you can grow things here, you can grow them anywhere.

The high desert, as the name implies, is like other deserts but at a higher altitude, generally a mile or more. Weather here is as dry and windy as one would expect, and summers desert hot, but the high desert also features very cold weather in the winter, including snow on those occasions when moisture manages to stop by for a rare visit.

Karen Wright's book is filled with advice for gardening under these extreme conditions, advice which is generally equally useful in more friendly climes. While not specifically an organic gardener, her tips and remedies are usually based on nature, rather than harsh chemicals and poisons. It is the type of advice you will particularly appreciate if you plan to eat anything which comes from your garden. However, this is not just a book for vegetable or fruit farmers, but for those who grow flowers and trees and bushes as well.

The Bloomin' Desert is not a textbook type of gardening book. It isn't filled with instructions such as plant tomatoes on May 15 if you live in zone 5, but consists of countless practical tips that come from someone who has had a "green thumb" virtually all of her life. It is filled with the advice you don't find in a seed catalogue.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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