University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial Publications : Book of the Month

Armitage's Native Plants for American Gardens
Allan Armitage.  2006.  Timber Press.  hardcover, 451 pp.

This instructor, research, and popular author and lecturer as added to his excellent references on annuals and perennials with this one on native herbaceous plants.  It is mainly an A-Z listing of 160 genera, covering 630 species and cultivars of native annuals, biennials, and perennials.  Written for the whole country, plants are grouped from A-Z by genera and not grouped by region as in many such references.  Also unlike other such references, cultivars are included as well as species, for over 630 total.  For each genus you'll find a short description, key cultivars, habitat (soils and geographic range), hardiness, garden site (sun, soil type), and garden maintenance. In addition, at the end are several useful lists for various uses, and for resources and sources. In addition for some genera, propagation details are given as well as some interesting origins of the plant and its name (etymology).

The author defines in the preface the scope of the book, and its focus for gardeners.  Plants are included that are generally available in nurseries and not just in the wild, another difference from more botanically-oriented references.  The author encourages one to not consider these plant unto themselves, but as components of a garden with non-natives as well.  He defines natives as many do, as those plants (genera) existing here when the first Europeans arrived  Yet he encourages the reader to not get too wrapped up in such definitions, or whether they should apply more locally, and to realize that natives does not equate to non-invasive and always good.

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