This week, let's start our book reviews with a book for young children.

"A Desert Hello," from the Western National Parks Association, is a charming board book. It features illustrations by Tucson's own very talented Paul Mirocha (well, he was born in Minnesota, but he wised up). It's a poem about desert life and features many animals that children may be able to see in their own yards. It also has explanation pages for adults. Visit the Western National Parks Association store in Oro Valley or online for this and many other wonderful books and gifts.

Imagination is important for children. Growing up, we often pretended to be explorers (exploring such exotic locales as the loop walk at the Saguaro National Monument Visitors Center). We were Thor Heyerdahl or Lewis and Clark, exploring the wild world around us, and discovering all manner of important things.

My sister and I didn't like that the explorers were "boys," and yet we couldn't think of any women explorers. Turns out there are any number of great women explorers to choose from. A fascinating new book published this year discusses the lives of 24 women explorers. "They Made Their Mark," (J. Eppinga, 2009, Globe Pequot Press), is an illustrated history of The Society of Woman Geographers. It features well-known names, such as Amelia Earhart, Rachel Carson, and Jane Goodall, as well as lesser known but no less amazing, talented and brave women such as Te Ata, Malvina Hoffman and Edith "Jackie" Maslin Ronne (to name a few). This is great reading for armchair explorers and those that already have a subscription to National Geographic. (I also appreciate the fact that it is printed in the United States.)

For over a century, one garden has been especially inspiring to horticulturists, gardening enthusiasts, landscape designers, and everyone who appreciates the beauty of nature. The garden at Hidcote Manor in the Cotswolds is known internationally as the epitome of the classic English country garden, a style many aspire to in their own gardens. "Hidcote: The Making of a Garden, Revised Edition" (E. Clarke, 2009, Norton Press) is both an account of the creation and evolution over the decades of the garden while it is also a biography of the enigmatic creator, expatriate American Lawrence Johnston. Well illustrated with photographs both new and old, it offers insight into the detail that goes into creating a garden that transcends time.

Closer to home, do you have rosemary in your garden? It does grow well here in a xeriscape, sometimes even too well. Yet hacking it back and throwing it away seems such a waste. This next book can help! Did you know that rosemary makes a great green and healthy cleaning product? (I didn't.) "What Can I Do With My Herbs?" (J. Barrett, 2009, Texas A & M University Press) offers many uses, other than culinary, for 40 different herbs. Common herbs. Herbs I write about and tell you to grow. Along with uses, the book features helpful information on growing these herbs yourself. Information from someone who also lives in a hot, hard-to-garden-in climate. A very lovely little book. I eagerly await its sequel.

Happy reading!

It doesn't have to cost much to turn your yard into a pleasing space to relax in. For a personal consultation, or for more information on a five week landscaping class that starts in February, contact me at 292-0504. Please leave a voice message.

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