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Book Report: ‘The Hot Garden’

September 21, 2009

Hot Garden book cover

Brimming with equal parts information and inspiration, THE HOT GARDEN by Scott Calhoun, is my current fave garden book. Its focus is gardening in the extreme conditions faced by those of us who live in the Southwest. It’s full of valuable tips, scientific data and fun factoids about unusual desert and dry climate plants. Plant and tree charts will be enormously helpful for gardeners wondering which ones will work best in their drought tolerant landscapes. Water-wise irrigation charts explain which types of plants will work best for the type of climate you live in and easy-to-understand graphics help explain how these systems are accomplished. All of it is invaluable for those of us gardening in Riverside. Calhoun is an author, Sunset magazine contributor and landscape designer living in Tucson, Arizona, but his experience and research is especially applicable in drought-plagued Southern California. What I love the book for most is the inspiration I find in the photos. If you’re excited by color and design and covet a garden unlike your neighbors, this is the book for you!

painted walls

Photos by Scott Calhoun, from The Hot Garden (Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2009)

Interesting design elements crop up everywhere and Calhoun is a proponent of color in the desert garden, especially on stuccoed walls. I’m thinking I have to paint a wall somewhere at the Rancho in one of the hot shades to be found in the book; succulents just look so gorgeous against them.

Photo by Scott Calhoun, from The Hot Garden (Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2009)

Photo by Scott Calhoun, from The Hot Garden (Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2009)

Plus, there are lots pictures of gardens featuring my favorite garden element: junk! And, in interesting ways I hadn’t thought of but are very Rancho-adaptable. In the photo above you can find a ramada made of rusted bed springs, old lawnmower blade plant stands, farming augers used as support columns, and my favorite, rusted city-meter- covers as pavers — genius! Pick up a copy of the book for yourself and you’re sure to find yourself wanting to emulate some of it in your own yard … it could be the start of a whole new way of looking at gardening where you live.

I bought my copy of THE HOT GARDEN at Borders in Riverside at The Plaza, but it’s also available on Or, just click here to order.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2009 5:15 pm


    Thanks so much for the thoughtful review of my book. I love the design of your blog. Next time I’m in Riverside, I’d love to see what sort of junk you’ve assembled at the Rancho.

    Vaya bien,

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 21, 2009 5:56 pm

      Scott, thank you for looking at the post — I’d be happy to show you the ever-expanding junk collection on your next trip out.

  2. September 23, 2009 6:20 pm

    What a great blog and how cool to read about Scotty’s new book. A “must have” for this mossy PNW gardener whose blood courses with rust! Thanks and I’ll keep following your adventures. Cheers!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 23, 2009 6:30 pm

      Thanks, Lorene, I appreciate the comment!

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