Perry's Perennial Pages

Perennial Publications-- Basics,Encyclopedias


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The RHS Plant Finder
An incredible listing from the UK of over 65,000 plants, where to find them in the UK, and much more. Updated yearly, and published through the RHS (Royal Horticulture Society), this is quickly becoming THE taxonomic authority in the world for plant names. Their latest project is to put this, and other plant sources on a CD, along with much more multimedia of interest to gardeners. Visit The Plant Finder web site and find out more and how to order. Updates are usually available in May.

Source List of Plants and Seeds, 6th ed
Richard Isaacson.  2004.  Anderson Horticultural Library, University of Minnesota.  softcover, 367pp.
The most recent version of this source list of plants and seeds in the U.S.  is now up to over 90,000 entries from over 700 nurseries!  It has been four years in revision, only containing entries from nurseries between 2000 and 2004.  Entries are listed by scientific name, but there is a cross reference of common names at the beginning.  Each entry has a code for nurseries listing it, the codes easily found on the nursery listing.  This is the printed version with an online version on can subscribe to yearly as well.

Flora, a Gardener's Encyclopedia (more in-depth review)
Sean Hogan (Chief Consultant).  2003.  Timber Press, hardcover, 2 vols, 1584pp.
If you could use a reference focused primarily on plants of the world, this should be on your wish list.  The 2-volumes (sold together in a slipcase) can also be found on a CDrom, included with the first edition and which contains some other features as well.  Over 11,000 color photos on over 20,000 plants and their brief descriptions including key species and cultivars, and cultivation tips, were gathered by 67 contributing writers over a five year period.

Further Along the Garden Path. 
Ann Lovejoy.  New York, MacMillan, 1995. 247 pages, hardcover.
This full-color, large-format book has more text than pictures, providing a wealth of ideas for planning, planting, and maintaining your garden year-round. Suggestions are prioritized by month to provide the no-longer-novice gardener with additional tips. It includes ideas for planning in the winter, preparing in the spring, planting and pruning mid-year, protecting in the fall, and finally assessing performance in early winter. Ann Lovejoy has written several books on gardening and is a regular contributor to Horticulture magazine. (NP)

1001 Ingenious Gardening Ideas.
 Deborah Martin. 1999.   Rodale Press, hardcover, 340pp.
The author and staff collected practical ideas from over 300 gardeners across the country, from home gardeners to master gardeners to professionals.  These tips are grouped into twelve chapters from tools to landscaping, and include flowers, fruits, vegetables, and more.  They include tips on how to make things such as novel trellises, how to recycle items into the garden, and all manner of novel cultural tricks.  We learn much about gardening from others, and this is a way to do so in one place.  It's like you were a fly on the wall, listening in to the conversations at a huge gardening meeting. Most will surely find some new ideas as I did.

The Organic Garden
Christine and Michael Lavelle.  2003.  Hermes House, 256pp.
    The Organic Garden is a guide to natural gardens. I like it because the introduction starts out explaining what organic gardens are, why you might want to choose to grow an organic garden, and then there is a small section called “Understanding Your Garden” as well as a section on designing your garden.  It is all very straight forward and easy to understand.  As a plant and soil science student, I find the information accurate and the writing easy to read.
    This book is also great for people who want to start from square one and don’t know anything about gardening.  Chapters are designated for every important subject from plant health, soil and soil management, lawn care, digging and transplanting techniques, propagation, pruning, growing under glass, feeding, watering, and weeding.  You will also find helpful and extensive information on different types of gardens such as ornamental, kitchen, vegetable, herb, fruit, and wildlife gardens.  The last chapter is entitled “Calendar of Care” and it breaks down by season what types of preparation/maintenance should be provided for whatever garden you may be growing.  There is also a list of suppliers. The 800+ color photos in this book are of great quality and also very helpful to everyone from first-timers to knowledgeable gardeners.  (Lindsay R.)

Better Homes and Gardens New Complete Guide to Gardening
Susan A. Roth. 1997, Meredith Publishing. 575 pp.
This comprehensive book covers everything a home gardener needs to know from developing the right landscape plan, choosing the right ground cover, growing plants that bear fruits and nuts, to building your soil and even contains tips on garden tools and maintenance.  It has a lot of great plant photos as well as illustrations to explain tasks such as creating a border for your perennials or thatching a lawn.  She also offers practical advice such as how to buy plants and transplanting.  The author does a great job at combining good common sense in the garden with creative planting practices to make for an excellent reference book when it comes to residential garden. (Leanne W.)

The American Horticultural Society Flower Finder
Jacqueline Heriteau. 1992, Stonesong Press, 279 pages
    Co-authored by The American Horticultural Society staff and consultants and Andre Viette, this book gives a comprehensive overview of the basics of setting, planning, and establishing a garden. The bulk of the book is nicely broken down by flower type (bulbous, perennial, annual) with a further break down of each type by its flowering characteristics such as spring, summer, or fall blooming along with plant preference of full sun or shade. Also foliage plants are broken down into form, texture, and foliage color. Theme gardens are briefly covered with a brief description of the theme (ex. Japanese Garden) followed by a listing of plants appropriate to the selected theme. Each plant is then described by its growth habit (ex. Carex morrowii clumping, low growing, evergreen groundcover), preferred environment (…thrives in boggy situations), and suggestions for appropriate planting spaces (…plant between rocks, beside stream, or along a pond walk).
    I find this book to be most useful in planning garden designs based on site characteristic so as to choose the proper plant for the proper place and if applicable the proper plant to compliment a themed garden. What I like the best about this book is the breakdown of plant by flowering season and sun requirements making it much easier to plan a garden with a succesion of blooms throughout the season.  I often find with many gardening books they are swayed based on the area where the author lives therefore I always check the “About the Author” section to see if I think a book will be appropriate for my area. This book seems to show little concentration on a particular area because it breaks down the flowers based on the national USDA hardiness map making it useful both as reference for my home gardens or for when my mother calls from San Diego and has a flower question.  If I could add one thing to this book it would be more pictures.  While the pictures present are color and identifiable, I find I need a separate reference guide to use along with this book for flower identification if I am unfamiliar with a plant. (Daisy W.)

The Complete Garden Flower Book:  Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, Shrubs and Climbers
2001, Murdoch Books.  795 pp.  As mentioned in its title, this book contains a comprehensive guide to many different plant groups.  It offers not only gorgeously shot plant photographs but advice on everything from creating cottage gardens to drying flowers and making lovely window boxes.  Each chapter contains practical information for each plant group such as annuals, herbs, cacti, climbers and even bromeliads.  In addition, each plant listed contains a helpful ‘At a glance’ list of when to sow, pot up and when each plant flowers.  It is a good book for reading in the midst of winter for inspiration on the upcoming spring. (Leanne W.)

The Gardener's Book of Charts, Tables and Lists
Nancy B.  MacKinnon.  2002.  Capitol. paperback, 142pp.
Written by a nursery owner in Connecticut to help provide guidance to customers on choosing perennials, it is a book of lists after a few pages on successful gardening tips, ideal for gardeners new to choosing perennials.  Plants are alphabetical in each list, grouped by sun or shade, and within each by color.  There are additional lists for growing under maple trees, peonies, and foliage.  For each plant is given a few notes, height, hardiness zone, bloom month(s) in zones 5-6, and other uses such as for cutting.

The Flower Gardener's Bible (more in-depth review)
Lewis and Nancy Hill.  2003.  Storey. paperback, 372pp.
In this latest book by writers and life-long nursery professionals in Vermont, the Hills really give a wealth of practical ideas for gardeners in three main sections.  In the first on The Joy of Flower Gardening, they cover tips and techniques from design to installation to care.  In the second on A Gallery of Gardens, they cover about two dozen types of gardens, giving a couple pages of characteristics of each, sample plants, even a sample simple garden design.  In the third section on A Feast of Flowers they cover 350, making a good starting selection from shrubs as well as herbaceous plants.

The Complete Book of Practical Gardening
Peter McHoy.  limited availability.  National Book Network. (review by S. Schneider)
Successful gardening requires a combination of thorough planning and skilled execution.  The Complete Book of Practical Gardening shows you what needs to be done in your garden, when and how to do it.  Whether you are confined to a tiny backyard or a balcony, or you have a fairly typical small town garden or larger plot, this book offers creative ideas and practical solutions to help you make the most of the space you have available.

Passionate Gardening, Good Advice for Challenging Climates (more in-depth review)
Lauren Springer and Rob Proctor. 2000.  Fulcrum Publ. 336pp, hardcover.
The fly-leaf of the book sums it up well: "Passionate Gardening take the gardener through the seasons in a most comprehensive, yet pleasurable and accessible way, as the authors celebrate a diversity of plants for every site and every season.  They champion sound, ecologically friendly gardening techniques, from soil and water issues to pest management.  They also offer up stories of their horticultural adventures as their personal gardens have evolved, making this lively, information-packed reading with a personal, real touch."

The Green Thumb Garden Handbook (more in-depth review)
Doc and Katy Abraham.  1999 (1992).  Lyons Press.  528pp, softcover.
A great reference for beginning gardeners, this handbook has so many tips the experienced gardener will also find something (if not much) of use here as well. It has been described as a "gardening library in a single book."  It is densely packed with culture, practical tips, lists of plants and more common sense on all aspects of gardening including such as vegetables, fruits, perennials to houseplants.  It has recently been greatly updated and revised.  The authors are easily readable, with a half century of experience delivering gardening information through various media to home gardeners.

America's Garden Book-- more in-depth review
Louise and James Bush-Brown. 1996. MacMillan, 1042pp, hardcover.
This classic reference for gardeners, first written in 1939, was greatly updated in 1996 by Howard Irwin and members of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I find it very inclusive, well-organized, easy to find information, and still one of my favorite references. The main sections are in order, garden design, plant selection and culture, special habitats, flavor and fragrance, cultural methods and practices, and finally the indoor garden. It is well-indexed at the end, with glossary and zone map. Procedures such as making structures or garden accessories are well-illustrated, with many good color photographs of plants.

Sunset National Garden Book-- more in-depth review
Sunset garden editors. 1997.  Sunset Books, 656 pp, softcover.
A unique division of the country into 45 climate (not just hardiness) zones, shown on regional maps, is the main focus of this book. Following a page discussion of each zone and unique gardening and geographic traits, is a section of useful tables. Plants are listed in tables of plants by type (such as trees) or special situations (such as seacoasts). Each table lists a few basic plants, climate zones, icon keys to culture such as light and moisture, and the page reference for more information. Most of the book is and A-Z fairly complete listing of all garden plant types from temperate trees to tropicals. Each plant has brief cultural notes, followed by listings of main species or cultivars and particular descriptions or culture for each. Of course with each description is a listing of the climate zones where the plant may be grown.

PPP Index, The European Plant Finder
A comprehensive listing of plants and sources from 19 countries, with notes in 6 languages, with much descriptive information on each nursery. Book includes a CDrom version, easily installed on most recent computers, and easily searchable. CD rom also includes lists of books and botanic gardens in Germany among other items. Both include translations of common plants and fruits in the 6 languanges. (I purchased mine 5/98 in the UK for about US$45.) Anne and Walter Erhardt, 1997 3rd ed., Eugen Ulmer Gmbh and Co., Wollgrasweg 41, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany.

Source list of Canadian plants
The Canadian Plant Sourcebook, Anne and Peter Ashley, 93 Fentiman Ave, Ottawa, Ont. K1S OT7 Canada; The third edition since 1990,  and the only such source for Canada. Listings by perennial, major perennial group, shrubs and trees to nurseries selling them. Excellent resource.

Successful Perennial Gardening
Hill, Lewis and Nancy. 1988. Storey Communications, Pownal, VT. Vermont authors Lewis and Nancy once again bring their years of nursery and growing experience into an easy-to-read book. Basics are covered, followed by many examples of perennial garden types described and plants to use in them, finally with a description drawings and photos of the most common perennials. An excellent reference for anyone getting into perennials, or looking for design ideas.

A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants-- more in-depth review
Brickell & Zuk. 1997. DK Publishing. A greatly revised and expanded version of the original British work, covering over 15,000 plants; many photos; one of the best listings of cultivars for the most number of species and genera-- both indoor and outdoors, temperate and tropical; compiled with the assistance of over 60 specialists in various plant groups (including your webmaster).

Brooklyn Botanic Garden handbook series
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225-1099. A quarterly series of small inexpensive booklets, often composed of articles by several authors, available individually or as a membership in this garden. Dozens of topics, an ongoing series for several decades, updated continually.

The National Gardening Association Dictionary of Horticulture
David Els. 1994. Viking. Need to know what a plant term means, or gardening jargon, or botanical epithet? This is the dictionary for you, compiled by the experts at this national association.

Index of Garden Plants
Mark Griffiths. 1994. Timber Press. The much less expensive version of the RHS Dictionary of Horticulture (about $60 vs. $600 or so) containing just the information on individual plants-- a great reference on taxonomy, plant descriptions, cultivars and the like.

The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening
Anthony Huxley. 1992. 4 vols., Stockton Press. THE reference on plants and gardening for the serious--taxonomy, descriptions of plants and gardening practices, famous horticulturists, cultivars, etc. of most the world's plants. Greatly revised and updated from the previous version, and very appropriate for the U.S. as well as the U.K.

Perennials for Dummies
Marcie Tatro, National Gardening Association. 1997. IDG Books. One of the many in the "dummies" series on many topics (most non plant), this is one of the first in an upcoming of dummy plant titles. Don't be fooled by the title-- some very concise, well organized tips, especially useful for the novice.

Passport to Gardening
Kathy LaLiberte and Ben Watson. 1998. Chelsea Green Publ, White River Jct, VT. These two authors help one find information on gardening, with many tips, and items (catalog referenced to Gardener's Supply mail order who was involved with this publication).

Gardener's Desk Reference--more in-depth review
Gardener's Desk Reference, Janet Marinelli, 1998, Henry Holt and Co. By the current editor of the famous series from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, this 800 page reference is different from other similar tomes with chapters such as Ecology for Gardeners, Botany for Gardeners, Plant Conservation, Safe Pest Control, Plants in Literature, Plant Trivia, and Garden Tools. The other key difference is the grouping of recommended practices and plants by region of the country, and many useful and different lists such as frost dates by city, endangered plants by state and native plants for specific pollinators.

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