University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial Publications : Book of the Month

Caring for Perennials
Janet Macunovich. 1996. Storey Publ, 191 pages, softcover.

One of the most frequent questions I get from gardener's and overhear is how do I care for perennials? This includes when to divide, when to cut back, and which to cut back, mulching and a whole host of similar topics. This inexpensive reference by a professional landscaper from Michigan, and author, covers these in text and drawings.

Being shadowed now by the more recent book by Aust (The Well-Tended Perennial Garden--see review elsewhere), this was among the first recent books on this topic, and the information is still quite accurate and appropriate. Written more in a seasonal layout, rather than A-Z listing of perennials and what to do, this is a great reference-- a primer for the beginner, a checklist for the more experienced. The 14 chapters go through the season, beginning with "New Year's Calm: Planning the Season", to such as early spring pruning in "Earliest Stirrings: Pruning", to "Closing Up Before Winter: Putting the Garden to Bed."

At the end is a very useful chart, listing the perennials down the side, the months across the top, and in each square what to do for each perennial, in each month. Written for zone 5-6, notes are given on how to adapt this to other hardiness zones taking a phenological approach-- noticing what is in bloom. So for instance, when forsythia and star magnolia are past peak bloom, its time for chapter 5 activities: Dividing and Mulching. Based on personal and practical experience, with drawings and photos from real-life, and input from many other professionals, this book is accurate and packed with lots of readable and very useful advice. Whether you look up care and maintenance by plant, or by season, this book has something for you.


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