Monday, May 31, 2010

Great Gardening Book!

American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Perennials, ed. Graham Rice. Dorling Kindersley, 2006

This is a marvelous compendium of plants. Almost 500 pages of plant descriptions and beautiful color photographs make it a book that the curious gardener will dip into again and again. Plants are listed by genus and species, and a good number of cultivars are listed. Each genus is given a general description, followed by how it is best grown, how it’s propagated, and what pests it has. Then follows the various species within the genus, descriptions including origin, size, bloom time, color and size, scent and occasional tidbits about medicinal use or the like. One thing I love about this book as opposed to many other plant encyclopedias: it gives the American zone hardiness of the species.

But this is not just a straight encyclopedia; interspersed with the plants are sidebars and boxes with information on combining the plants to make beautiful vignettes that put plants with the same needs together, the structures of various types of flowers, plant history, diseases and pests of plants, and detailed propagation instructions for certain plants.

This book is great for looking up information, but it’s also wonderful for just leafing through it, stopping at reading at random spots- did you know that the Barlow type aquilegias make seed that’s true to type, while all other aquilegia’s promiscuously cross breed? And here I thought those Barlow girls were just as bad as their cousins! Drooling over this book has given me a lot of new ideas for the garden, and left me with serious zone envy.

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