Stokes Tropical Publishing Co., P.O.Box 9868 New Iberia, Louisiana, 70562. $19.95, September 2000, paperback, 128 pages, ISBN 0-9678540-1-6, Phone: 337-365-6998. E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>. On the Web: <www.stokestropicals.com>.
(Price/availability info may have changed since original publication of review.)
The authors have done an outstanding job of bringing together the information that one might want to learn in starting to grow a banana collection. The color pictures are well done and featured on nearly every page. At the same time, the writing is informal and touches on just about every aspect of bananas that beginning growers or those with a casual interest might have.
The book is divided into four sections. (1) Introduction. Covers the book organization, and abbreviations. (2) Bananas in the Garden. Starts with how the banana fits into botanical families and discusses its close relatives, then gets into horticultural advice on many aspects of growing bananas and how best to locate them in a garden. Finally, it has three pages of frequently asked questions. (3) Gallery. This section contains 69 pages describing individual species and cultivars, one per page. The emphasis is on exotic ornamental bananas, but the book also includes forty pages of pictures and comments on dessert bananas and plantains. (4) Essential Information. This includes a glossary; lists of preferred bananas for various growing conditions; a hardiness zone map; lists of nurseries, books and gardens and an index.
I was impressed by the thorough coverage of the subject, its informal tone, and the quality of the pictures. While the book is suitable as a reference book it also makes a really good read. It is enticing too; I first developed the urge to eat a banana, and then an urge to rush out and get some to plant. The book is only 7x9 inches, but contains as much interesting information as a volume several times its size.