and Gerard Taaffe. 2004. Timber Press, hardcover, 440pp.
Whether you're interested in ornamental garden plants in
general, or plants specifically for a Japanese garden, this book is
sure to be of interest and use. Featured are both plants that are
native to Japan (such as Astilbe), as well as those that have been
incorporated into gardens of Japan (such as the Japanese Anemone or
chrysanthemum, originally from China). Many are used in our
gardens, even if not Japanese in theme. Several thousand species
and cultivars are described, with 775 beautiful photographs from the
authors. The range of ornamental plants are grouped by type, from
trees and shrubs to herbaceous plants, even ferns and mosses-- the
latter so crucial in Japanese gardens.
The book open with an introduction into Japan--its climate, political
regions, history, and the use of plants in culture and gardens.
Hardiness zones are defined in degrees centigrade, and descriptions
throughout give dimensions in centimeters and meters. Following
the introduction are chapters on trees and shrubs, climbing plants,
herbaceous plants, bamboo and Sasa, grasses, ferns, and mosses.
At the end is a conversion chart of dimensions to American feet and
inches, glossary of terms, and index of plant names.
Most of the book is descriptions of plants, accompanied by very crisp
photographs either close-up of leaves and flowers, overall plants, or
plants in their settings. Within each chapter, plants are listed
alphabetically by their scientific names. Following are the names
in Japanese, common English names, and other plainly written botanical
information such as family, distribution in Japan or elsewhere, and
plant traits. Scientific terms are used, but defined
adjacent. Cultural information is then given including soil,
light, pruning, propagation, and hardiness. Design and other
information follow, finished with cultivars or related plants to
consider for similar use. Of most interest to me are the Japanese
names, which one rarely sees in texts, and the interesting points such
as traditional uses, and origin of the name.
The authors are both fluent in Japanese and quite conversant with the
country, plants and culture. Yamamori, from Israel, has written
on nature for various Japanese publications, as well as a couple
books. Taaffe, with high level training in the U.K., also writes
a regular column on gardening in Japan, and teaches landscape design