What Grows Here?


  WHAT GROWS HERE is a “how to” gardening book, and yet has all the analysis and research typical of a PhD thesis. This book should be especially informative and fun for newcomers to an area, either green or brown thumb, professional or layman. It is a very basic gardening book that can be used anywhere in the world if you apply the ecological principles taught in this book.   For example, a person from a Belgium Arboretum bought one, and also someone from the New York Herbarium.
My Masters Thesis was “An Ecological study of the plants of Hawaii Volcano’s National Park”, on the Big Island of Hawaii.  I studied the plant communities there, and how the plants interacted with each other, and with the environment.  I learned how all the ecological factors influence the plants, and how your yard can be so different from your next door neighbor, or even someone’s yard a mile away.


About 4 years after I completed my thesis; I moved to Northern California with my husband and a brand new baby; and we wanted to plant a garden at 4,500 ft in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  We didn’t know what to plant there because it got winter snow. So I started using my ecological training to research this challenge.  I studied the 13 counties of northern California , from the northern California border to Lake Tahoe; using a similar technique to what I used in Hawaii.  I collected the data from many sources.  This book was first printed in 1986. Since then I have sold almost 9,000 copies.  I am the writer, illustrator, and self-publisher. I made the illustrations of pen and ink drawings, and many of the charts, maps, diagrams, and gardening poems.


I was focusing on Northern California “mountain gardening” from 2,000 to 7,000 feet elevation, where growing seasons are short and winters are cold.  This area includes Mixed Conifer and Ponderosa Pine zones up to the Red Fir zone, but may also be helpful for people in borderline areas such as the Foothill Digger Pine type.  It could also be useful in similar areas that have snow, or other areas, because of the ecological approach.


This book uses an ecological approach that helps your plants thrive, instead of merely survive.  I describe this approach in the Climate chapter, and you will soon understand which environmental factors are affecting the plants in your yard, and what you can do about it.  For example, in this book is a chart that shows which vegetables like or dislike each other, and how you can use that information when planting the seeds.