by Ulrike and Hans-Georg Preissel,
Firefly Books Ltd., 144 pages,
I find it impossible to resist a good book devoted to just one genus, or in this case, two. (The book's first few pages not only highlight the differences between Brugmansia and Datura, but also outline the complex history of the shared classification of these two genera until 1973, when the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature finally recognized Brugmansia as a separate genus.)
Among the differences detailed, the most obvious visual clue is in blooming habits. Brugmansia flowers face down, while those of Datura are upright (an early common name was, logically, devil's trumpet). Brugmansia bloom colours include white, yellow and oranges from mild to wild, but there are no violets. Datura bloom colours include many shades of violet, such as the stunning D. metel var. fastuosa, with multi-petalled, deep purple flowers.
Lavishly illustrated, this book covers all aspects of Brugmansia and Datura culture, including form, structure, cultivation, diseases and pests, and provides a North American source list. But unlike most gardening tomes, it begins with a warning and disclaimer, since plants belonging to both genera are extremely poisonous. Despite their irresistible allure and intoxicating fragrance, neither angels' trumpets nor thorn apples belong in gardens frequented by children.
This is the first meticulously researched, comprehensive and thoroughly accessible guide to these seductive flowers to be published in the English language. Not surprising, given that co-author Hans-Georg Preissel heads the 17th-century Herrenhauser Gardens in Germany, where these New World flowers make stunning statements in Old World baroque gardens.
-- Stephen Westcott-Gratton
Surf 'n' turf
Brown patches on your lawn in August are not unusual, but if you think the problem may be more serious, check out the Guelph Turfgrass Institute's Web site at uoguelph.ca/GTI. Part of the University of Guelph, the institute oversees research, provides extension services to gardeners and training for turfgrass professionals. The Pest Diagnostic Clinic provides factsheets on various pests, such as lady beetle and boxelder bug, along with chemical and non-chemical control suggestions. You can even submit samples of insects and diseased plants for identification and diagnosis. Fees range from $35 to $60. A free newsletter, the GTI Advisor, is also available.