University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial Publications : Book of the Month

John Bryan.  2002.  Timber Press, 524pp, hardcover. revised ed.

First published by the author in 1989, this book was then selected as one of the 75 top gardening books by the American Horticulture Society.  This revised edition is even more extensive and definitive, covering most ornamental genera (230 in all) and many of their species, cultivars and selections arising from bulbs.  Bulbs here is used in the general sense, including bulbs, corms, tubers, and rhizomes.  Most of the book is an alphabetical listing of these and their in-depth information.  There are over 1100 color photographs of close-ups of flowers, flowers in their natural habitats, or color illustrations from historic magazines. With all these parts, this is one of the top references you could find on bulbs whether a botanist, gardener, student, or professional.  Everyone is bound to learn much just browsing, although it is most useful as a reference-- one that should be in any serious gardener's or professional's library, or anyone interested in bulbous plants.   The award-winning author has trained and worked in Britain and the U.S., writes, lectures and consults.

The chapters comprise about one tenth of the pages of this book, and cover bulb basics--history, botany, propagation, cultivation, using in the landscape, forcing to bloom out of season, and pests and diseases.  Written for both home gardeners and commercial growers, there are tips for both, such as in the forcing chapter or in the landscaping.  Photos show bulbs growing naturally from public gardens to original habitats, as well as production fields in Holland and elsewhere.

The list of genera covered in most the book is staggering, with many garden plants we normally may not think of as coming from a bulbous structure, such as many monkshood (Aconitum) and some relatives of the nasturtium (Tropaeolum).  Then there are most the genera that many have never heard of from Albuca to Homeria to Zephyra.  Of course all the major bulbous plants from spring Tulips and Daffodils to summer Lilies and Iris are treated in depth as well.

Each plant has a few paragraphs of introduction telling a bit about the history, botany, origin, and interesting facts such as how it was used or where the name came from.  Following are sections on culture, pests and diseases if any, propagation, and species.  As names have changed, previous ones are listed and cross-referenced.

At the end are some useful appendices, some not found in other references nor all together as here.  There is a list of the bulb families and their characteristics, countires and what bulbs are found there naturally, landscape uses of bulbs including colors and flowering seasons, glossary of plant terms, and extensive bibliography for further reference.

Where am I?  Perry's Perennial Pages | Publications | Book of the Month