University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial Publications : Book of the Month

America's Garden Book
Louise and James Bush-Brown. 1996. MacMillan, 1042pp, hardcover.

This classic reference for gardeners, first written in 1939, was greatly updated in 1996 by Howard Irwin and members of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I find it very inclusive, well-organized, easy to find information, and still one of my favorite references. The main sections are in order, garden design, plant selection and culture, special habitats, flavor and fragrance, cultural methods and practices, and finally the indoor garden. It is well-indexed at the end, with glossary and zone map. Procedures such as making structures or garden accessories are well-illustrated, with many good color photographs of plants.

The design section has chapters on aspects from history, and design principles, to specifics of such as patios, walls and fences. The plant section has chapters on various groups from lawns to woody plants such as trees and flowers such as roses. Each plant chapter begins with principles for the whole group, then covers the main genera in more detail, and ends with useful tables of many species in each group and key characters and cultural needs. This updated edition then covers in the section on special habitats, current ones of interest such as prairies and meadows, the seaside, and wildlife gardening among others. As with the plant chapters, each of these covers key design and other features of the habitats, ending with extensive and useful tables.

Flavor and fragrance of course covers home vegetables, home fruits and nuts, and herbs in a fashion similar to previous chapters. Cultural methods includes chapters on such as tools, various aspects of soil and soil improvement such as cover crops, mulches, weeds, propagation and more. Once again, there are more useful tables such as common pests and diseases of crops. The last section on the indoor garden covers the basics and then specifics such as on forcing bulbs. A lengthy table includes species of merit, and their needs. Then there are chapters on gardening under artificial light and finally on greenhouse gardening.

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