University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial Publications : Book of the Month

Armitage’s Manual of Annuals, Biennials and Half-hardy Perennials
Allan Armitage.  2001.  Timber Press, 539pp, hardcover.

Many may know the name of this author from his garden writing in magazines, frequent talks, or his previous books such as Herbaceous Perennial Plants—one of the more complete references on these plant.  Well now he has found the time to put together a similar reference to the latter, only on annuals and those flowers grown similarly.

This book, as his others, is written in a very practical, realistic and easy reading style.  For instance in his opening paragraph he defines annuals as most use them now, that is “From a gardening standpoint, an annual is usually defined as a plant that dies because it is unable to survive extremes of cold or heat, that is, the winter is too cold or the summer is too hot…”  And in his further opening remarks he encourages gardeners to just do it basically, whether it be trying new plants or pronouncing plant names (not getting hung up with what is exactly correct).  Other humorous (yet quite enlightening, and I feel true) comments are on such as plant labels, plant snobs, the non-gardening spouse, and others.

This reference is similar in format to his one on herbaceous perennials, being a listing of 245 genera from Abelmoschus to Zinnia.  The common are included like Marigold, the more unusual like Zaluzianskya, those often sold as tropicals or “temperennials” or other names like Abutilon or Strobilanthes.  Each genus has some history or basic descriptive and culture information, lists of key species and cultivars and their descriptions, where many of the latter a key for their differences, and further reading citations.  There are also many drawings, and a center section of many excellent color photos.

Whether you grow perennials or annuals, if you grow any flowers or foliage in the garden, this should prove an excellent reference and wonderful read in the evenings.

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