Perry's Perennial Pages

Perennial Publications--Other

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This listing is further grouped by:
Wildlife | Natural Gardening | Lifestyle, hot topics | Poison plants | Waterscaping | Propagation | Other


Landscaping for Wildlife
Carrol Henderson.  1987.  Univ. Minnesota, spiral, 142 pp.
This book is about the needs of wildlife, and how you can accommodate these needs by making small adjustments to your landscaping plan. Also discussed is wildlife management, information on ecosystems, planning landscaping for maximum wildlife enjoyment, and uses and information about many plants. This book would be very useful when planning a landscape that is geared towards being useful to local wildlife.  It would also be useful as backyard knowledge for planning any garden, specifically a garden that had a unique relationship with the environment around it. The book is full of helpful details and random useful information, such as how to build a deer blind; but for referencing a specific question it seems to be rather complicated. It requires a little reading to find the exact answer to different questions, but all in all is a very helpful book. (Dana O.)

Gardens and Deer
Coles, Charles.  1997. Swan Hill Press. hard cover, 142pp.  (available as of this review only in UK, or through international order sources such as  One of the few and most in depth references on the subject, this book shows the UK has a serious problem as well as the US.  Although written for the UK, there is much here to warrant use in this country.  What doesn't necessarily apply are the types of deer, maps of the UK where they are located, and some of the repellent products.  What does apply to US gardens are an overview of the problem, signs of deer visits, deer behavior in gardens in a general sense (knowing this helps in their control), many of the deterrents listed as well as barriers such as types of fencing, and the lengthy listing of plants susceptible and resistant to deer feeding.  The author had a career in game conservation, and based his book on his own trials in his gardens, as well as those of over 300 gardeners.

Natural Gardening

Dream Plants for the Natural Garden  -- more in-depth review
Henk Gerritsen & Piet Oudolf.  2000. Timber Press, 144pp, hardcover.
    Originally published in the Netherlands in 1999, this just released translation is an excellent addition to the serious perennial enthusiast's library. The authors are well known for their naturalistic and award-winning gardens throughout England and Europe, from private gardens to parks.  This book is a reflection of their naturalistic approach to plants. Perhaps the greatest value of this book, is in its plant groupings, not just from A-Z but rather by uses and habits and traits--tough, playful, or troublesome as the main categories.
    Then there are brief pages highlighting other aspects of gardening, such as food for all (playing up the role for wildlife, and downplaying the role of pests), winter silhouettes, or colour schemes. Brief descriptions and culture are given for hundreds of species and cultivars. Many of the plants are not common or found in the U.S. at present, but this all the more shows just how many more good plants there are waiting to find their way across the ocean to our shores.

The Natural Habitat Garden
Ken Druse. 1994. Clarkson Potter Publ, 248 pages, hardcover.
Planting gardens to blend in with the surrounding natural habitats, or if none are nearby, to plant gardens to provide such habitats for wildlife, is still popular and was introduced to many over the last few years with this book. By an award winning author and photographer, the over 500 color photos of various aspects of gardens and natural habitats, even of wildlife, is worth the book alone. This book covers four basic habitats: grasslands, drylands, wetlands and woodlands. The introduction to each habitat through words and photos describes the characteristics of each, and appropriate plants. Then gardens, both public and private, are shown and described to give further ideas and inspiration.

Perennials and their Growing Habits
Richard Hansen and Friedrich Stahl. 1993. 4th edition
This book describes new ways of using perennials in parks and gardens based on ecological features rather than purely aesthetics.  This work shows  how ecological based herbaceous perennials can result in low maintenance plantings.  The entire field of ornamental perennials are described with an emphasis on the ecological nature of the plant rather than their color or flowers.  Included are 32 pages that  demonstrate this ecological design of perennials in beautiful color photos.  Translated from the German, this is a standard work in Europe on a recent design trend.

The Natural History of a Garden (more in-depth review)
Colin Spedding.  2003. Timber Press.  hardcover, 245pp.
If you're interested in what is going on in your garden, and who is really living there, then this book is for you.  It begins by advice on sharpening your observational skills, to notice all the animal life there, not just the insects for instance but their predators.  This is by area, whether it be a sunny bank, a path, or a pond.  Similar detailed studies are made of soil, seasonal changes, ecology, and water.  Emphasis, if any, is on the non-plant life in gardens, with brief descriptions but not too much to keep the reading interesting and not heavy as in a college text.  Although written by a retired professor from the University of Reading in England, with some examples strictly British, the principles apply anywhere in the world as his son Geoffrey in Los Angeles, and co-author, attests.  It is a good primer on basic ecology in your landscape.

Natural Gardening in Small Spaces. (more in-depth review)
Noel Kingsbury.  2003, Timber Press.  176pp, hardcover.
This popular British author of many articles and several books now shows in his latest book how in even small spaces gardeners can recreate the look and ecology of natural areas.  Such gardens will be aesthetic for those desiring such a garden, and both functional and hospitable to many forms of wildlife.  He begins with some basic terms and issues related to natural areas, then goes into more depth on characteristics to consider in natural gardens.  A considerable part of the book considers six main natural habitats.  Extensive lists of plants and their features for these areas are listed at the end.  One chapter also explains how to create natural plantings in containers, on walls, and on rooftops-- one of the first garden books to focus attention on the latter.  There is of course another chapter on the practicalities or gardening techniques for such gardens such as watering, weeds and soils.  Beautiful color photos illustrate the various chapters.

Lifestyle, writings, hot topics

Cuttings from My Garden Notebooks. (more in-depth review)
Graham Stuart Thomas.  1997.  Sagapress.  368pp, hardcover.  Noted for his specific books on topics such as perennials, roses and shrubs, the author distills a lifetime of encyclopedic knowledge here into 63 essays.  Plants, techinques such as alpine troughs, famous gardeners, design ideas and more are treated with "humor, common sense and a poet's grasp of the English language."

The Self-Taught Gardener.
Sydney Eddison.  1997.  Viking.  238pp, hardcover.  The author is a passionate gardener, writer, teacher and veteran speaker on gardening subjects.  In this book, subtitled "Lessons from a Country Garden," she distills a lifetime of practical garden experience into a user friendly guide.  In a easy-to-read style, she covers topics in the order a gardener learns and begins, from moral support and tools to obtain, to some easy plants, through the culture to looking at others' landscapes and how and why they work.  Practical tips for successful gardening, lists of plants for various purposes, and help for each to realize their own potential for gardening and design, are some key points to this useful reference.

Gardener's Fitness, Weeding out the Aches and Pains
Barbara Pearlman.  1999.  Taylor. paperback, 151pp.
Just as you should stretch and warm-up before vigorous exercise, so should you with gardening-- something most gardeners don't even consider, so end up with sore backs, muscles, strains and other ailments.  This fitness consultant packs her book with simple and quick ways to prepare you body before the gardening season, to do garden chores properly with least stress to your body, to keep muscles in shape during breaks, and to treat your body after gardening.  Finally there are many great tips to deal with problems from allergies to cuts and bruises to insect bites.  This is one of the few books on this subject, and written humorously not only by an active gardener but active health practitioner.

Spiritual Gardening: Creating Sacred Space Outdoors
Peg Streep.  Time Life. (review by S. Schneider)
Creating a garden that is a spiritual sanctuary—a calm refuge from the stresses of everyday life, a soothing, healing ointment for heart and soul—is within every gardener’s reach.  Spiritual Gardening looks at the garden not merely as another “room” to be decorated but as a place where we can engage all of our senses, connect our spirits to nature, foster our personal growth and spiritual awareness.  Illustrated with magnificent photographs, Peg Streep’s informative text takes the reader into the heart of gardening for the soul.

Poison plants

AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants
Lampe and McCann. 1985. Amer. Medical Assn. Chicago. One of the best references on the topic, by doctors on humans for lay readers, unlike other references either too technical or based on animal studies.

Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America
Nancy Turner and A. Szczawinski.  1991.  Timber Press. paperback 310pp.
There are not many books available on this topic, and if you don't have one, you should have this book handy if you work or play outdoors, in the garden or in nature.  Written by two doctors, it has the contributions of several others, and is very well researched and easy to read.  After an introduction about various aspects of poisoning, the plants are listed (with photos) by crop type-- mushrooms; plants of wild areas including algae and seaweed to lichens, trees, vines and others; plants of crops and gardens; indoor plants.  Each plant has an easy to understand description, occurrence, toxicity, treatment and notes of interest.  This book was recommended by the American Library Association as an Outstanding Reference Source.

Care, maintenance

Caring for Perennials --  more in-depth review
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.

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden --in-depth review
Tracy DiSabato-Aust, 1997, Timber Press. Keys to making the most attractive perennial garden, for the longest period, with the least maintenance, are covered in this book. Not really covered in such depth by other references, these keys include how and when to prune and shape perennials to produce more flowers, encourage lush new growth, discourage pests, stagger bloom times, and maintain vigorous growth. Over 130 photos by the author illustrate these concepts. The author is a lecturer, consultant and writer, with over 20 years professional experience designing and maintaining gardens.


Glattstein, Judy.  1994.  Garden Way Publ.  paperback, 184 pp.  This book differs from the many on the subject by treating water landscaping by type of garden or ecological setting, and focusing mainly on the plants to be used within each (trees and shrubs as well as perennials).  These habitats include natural features such as streams, sunny moist soil (wet meadows), sunny shallow water (marshes), shady moist soil (swamps), artificial pools and ponds (with diagrams on construction techiniques), bogs--natural and created (and how to create one), and containers.  There are also general tips on planting and caring for water gardens, with further resources at the end.


Making More Plants--  more in-depth review
Ken Druse. 2000.  Clarkson Potter Publ, 256pp, hardcover.
One of the few plant propagation references devoted primarily to ornamental plants, it is also one of the few how-to books so artistically illustrated with photos. Award-winning and popular author and photographer Ken Druse has combined years of propagation experience, with well-stated advice from himself and the many experts he has consulted. With over 500 of his photos, he both illustrates quite clearly the concepts and practices of propagation on over 700 genera, and provides inspiration with an artists eye behind the camera lens. It is easily read, with clever chapter introductions and titles such as "Play Misty" for rooting cuttings with mist, or "Trouble in Paradise" for potential diseases. This book would be appropriate in the potting shed, on the coffee table, or for bedside reading.

Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada (more in-depth review)
William Cullina.   2000.  Houghton Mifflin.  322pp, hardcover.
Whether interested in a few wildflowers on your own property, or in the business commercially of producing and designing, this extensive reference will be of great value.  It provides details on growing and propagating 200 genera and 1,000 species, with many crisp and artistic color photos, and plenty of other background information in order to better understand and have success with wildflowers.


Gardener's Quiz Book
Norman Pellett.  2009. Outskirts Press.  softcover, 149pp.
University of Vermont Professor emeritus Norman Pellett has self-published a fun, affordable and educational read, asking 20 questions relating to plants in each of 10 chapters on various topics, then providing answers and brief discussion.  It is a book you can read in small bits, anywhere throughout, and be amused and learn some facts you may have wondered (or not) about plants. You'll come away much more educated about gardening and plants, and as a result should have better success.


The Good Gardens Guide.
Peter King, ed.  yearly.  Bloomsbury Publ, London. 666pp, softcover. 

 If you're even going on a trip to visit English gardens, or just want to know more about them, or have a very extensive reference covering most open to the public, this is it.  Gardens are grouped by county, also including ones is areas such as Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  At the beginning of each chapter is a map of the region, with gardens marked.  Each garden description give location, contact information, and a paragraph or two about the garden.  Gardens are also ranked, with stars, as to ones more noted.  Available by mail in the U.S., it can also be found in the U.K. in most garden shops, garden centres and bookshops.


Photographing Plants and Gardens--more in-depth review
Nichols, Clive.  1998.  David and Charles. paperback,160pp.  

One of my favorite books on the subject, it is well described on the book overleaf.  "Photographing Plants and Gardens is the indispensable guide for all photographers with an interest in gardens and gardeners with an interest in photography-- from amateurs seeking technical advice to professionals wanting to hone their skills.  In this book, illustrated throughout with his own breathtaking work, Clive Nicols divulges the secrets behind his success as a garden photographer."  (And he is one of the top garden photographers in the world.)    He first deals with the technical details such as choosing film and equipment.  Then he covers approaches, such as panoramas, close-ups or long shots,  use of weather and lighting--natural and artificial,  and more.  Most only think of garden photography in summer, but he shows how other seasons can be shot beautifully.  He ends by covering tips, many from his own experience, on making a living at photography.


Moss Gardening.
George Schenk.  1997.  Timber Press.  261pp, hardcover. 

 Most gardeners may feel moss is a sign of poor soil and undesirable.  But moss gardening has become, at least in some areas and circles, quite a trend in recent years.  For these, or if you already seem to be growing moss without trying, perhaps this well-illustrated reference will come in handy.  Other miniature and related plants such as lichens and liverworts are also covered.  Unlike other specific books on plant groups, this minimizes the discussion of various species and culture, and concentrates instead on landscaping specific locations with moss-- in containers, as carpets, on rocks, and in alpine gardens for instance.  There are also chapters on moss in gardens of Japan and the West.  Written by a landscaper, this is perhaps the first book on landscaping with mosses.  And it is written in a very humorous and personal style.  In the chapter on Bugaboos, the author talks not of bugs (of which there are really none of consequence), rather the other problems from air pollution to rodents, and "the remaining malefactor is the misunderstanding human."

In Pursuit of Perennial Profit
Patrick Vickery.  2002.  Capall Bann Publ., UK.  112pp, softcover.
This small book is a quick, easy and fun read.  Written by a gardener from northern Scotland, it gives his experiences learned first hand on how to garden cheaply, alternatives to purchased gardening tools and products,  and even how to have a few plants to sell.  Although often tips are based on UK products, there is much here for beginning gardeners elsewhere too.

Gaia's Garden  (more in-depth review)
Toby Hemenway.  2001.  Chelsea Green Publ.  222pp, softcover.
Subtitled "A Guide to Home-scale Permaculture", this is one of the few books on this subject for this audience.  It is a good introduction to permaculture, and serves as a quite thorough how-to guide for incorporating these principles into your landscape and gardens.

The Evening Garden (more in-depth review)
2002. Peter Loewer. Timber Press. 256pp, softcover.
Thanks to this publisher, this book from 1993 has once again been made available to gardeners after a several year absence.
For any gardener working or gone during much of daylight hours, or those wishing to expand enjoyment of their garden, this
encompassing book will provide many plants and ideas. The 14 chapters and many illustrations cover plants in various groups
such as annuals and night-fragrant plants, and topics such as night lighting, water gardening, and some fascinating aspects of
how and what we see at night.

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