Yesterday I published a new botany book, Conifer Basics.
It came about after I lead a couple of Conifer ID courses last winter, which were very well received by my Midweek Botany Crew, and during which I realised that some people really do want an absolutely basic introduction to the subject.
So instead of focusing on the tiny differences between species, which is what I do in the Cribs (green covers), in this book I talk you through the broad differences between the various genera (plural of genus) of conifers, very much as I do on my courses.
The idea is that, after reading this book, anyone can go out (anyone in the UK, that is!) and look at the conifers in their area, and can identify them to genus level.
Not to individual species level - that's a bit more advanced, although I do give species info on Larch and Cedar, as they only have three each. But, after reading this book, you will be confident to identify most of the conifers you are likely to see, to genus level. That means you can go round your local garden centre selling Christmas Trees, and can knowledgeably say "Abies.... Abies...... Picea..... Abies..." which will astound and impress all your friends.
So what is in the book?
I start by explaining what a "conifer" really is, and why it is not as simple as saying "evergreen".
Then I split all the conifers up into three groups, according to what type of leaf they have - needle, flat linear leaf, or scale leaf.
Next I do a quick walk-through each of those three groups, giving a bit more information about what you need to look at, in order to work out which genus you have.
Then I run through twenty of the commonest genera of conifers in the UK, in detail, explaining what you are looking at, what you are looking for, and a little bit of background information on each genus.
You need never be scared of conifers, ever again!
Here is where to find it: Conifer Basics by Rachel The Gardener, available right now on Kindle, free to download if you have Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime, and only a couple of quid if you don't.
Still not sure? Here's the list of Chapters, so you can see what is covered:
2) What's in a name (explanation of botanical naming)
3) Equipment Required: (minimal)
4) How to start looking at conifers:
5) What is a Conifer?
Group 1: Needle
Group 2: Flat Leaves
Group 3: Scale Leaves.
6) Group 1 - Needles (Pine, Larch, Cedar)
7) Group 2 - Flat leaves, Evergreen (subdivided into green shoots and brown shoots)
- Flat leaves, Deciduous
8) Group 3 - Scale leaves (subdivided into Big Trees, Hedges, and Others)
9) Finally (and a Crib)
My intention is that you will start with this book, become comfortable
and confident on identifying to genus level, then go on to look at identifying to
species level. Conifers are more interesting than most people think, and
are a comparatively small group of plants, especially when compared to
wildflowers, or garden plants. So it doesn't take long to become an
Expert, and we all love being an Expert, don't we!