Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2009
Regional Report

Shows & Events

Botany of Desire
One of my favorite books on horticulture has been developed into a documentary which will air on PBS stations in October. The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan, delves into the cultivation of four crops important to the history of humans; apples, tulips, potatoes, and marijuana. According to director Michael Schwartz, "The Botany of Desire is a perfect story for television. It takes a world we thought we knew, and it allows us to see it in an entirely new way."

Michael Pollan's unique theory is that we have not developed these plants, but the other way around. The plants have manipulated us into cultivating to their needs.

In man's search for sweetness, the myth of Johnny Appleseed is revealed. The quest for beauty brought about tulipmania that swept Holland in the 1700s. Man's desire for intoxication and rigid drug laws lead to the development of a new super plant -- "Maui wowie" evolved from the common hemp plant. The consumerism that drives the economy has caused the common potato to evolve into a MacDonald's French Fry.

This was a fascinating read, especially for a horticulturist, and I'm looking forward to the broadcast. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, October 28 at 8:00 pm, PBS channel 9.

Books

Birds of Napa County
A great variety of birds reside in Napa County and now there is a book that presents them in their natural environment. The Birds of Napa County, by Hermann Heinzel (Heyday Books, 2006) is a field guide that will help you identify the more than 300 avian inhabitants from the southern most end of the valley all the way to Mt. St. Helena. Illustrated by Hermann Heinzel.

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