Perry's Perennial Pages

Perennial Publications--Plants, general

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This listing is further grouped by:
perennials | other plants | bulbs | ferns | tropicals, exotics | grasses | natives


Perennial Reference Guide (more in-depth review)
Karleen Shafer and Nicole Lloyd.  2007.  Stipes Publ. spiral bound, 346pp.  To date there haven’t been many tables listing perennials for various purposes, or at least all in one place.  This book solves this problem when selecting perennials, composed solely of tables in six color-coded categories.

Herbaceous Perennial Plants  (more in-depth review)
Allan Armitage.  2008.  Stipes Publ.  Third Ed.  softcover, 1224pp.   If I were stranded on an island, and that island had perennials, and I could bring only a few reference books, this would be the first.  The previous two editions have been my bibles of perennials for years, and this should prove the same.

Planting the Natural Garden (more in-depth review)
Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen.  2003.  Timber Press, hardcover, 144pp.Ornamental gardens that appear "natural" have become quite popular, beginning a few years back in Europe as a result, in part, from the first edition of this book.  Now revised and updated, it is available in English. The two Dutch authors are known world-wide for their garden designs in this style, known abroad as the "European Wave."  This book follows their previous ones on Designing with Plants and Dream Plants for the Natural Garden.  In it they cover over 600 tough perennials and ornamental grasses suitable for their natural appearance.  They then provide short descriptions, and groupings, for ten rather unusual naturalistic themes.  These themes include such as lush, airy, exuberant, and wonderful.  Finally there are some different practical listings by latin name of plants such as for exceptional properties, good neighbors, and plants per given area. The book alone is worth having just for the inspiring photography of the authors.

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials
Ellen Phillips and C. Colston Burrell. 1993. 533 pages, hardcover.Emmaus, PA: Rodalle Press, Inc.
Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials not only covers the design and growing of perennials but also provides 200-plus page encyclopedia of perennial knowledge including a description, how to grow and uses in the landscape. This is a solid resource with wonderful color photographs and text descriptions. Ellen Phillips is a horticultural writer and editor at Rodale Press. Her specialties are ornamentals and garden history. C. Colston Burrell is a garden designer and writer based in Minnesota. (NP)

Christopher Lloyd's Garden Flowers.
Christopher Lloyd.  2000.  Timber Press. 384pp, hardcover.  One of the more famous and noted perennial writers of the latter half of this century, the author has received the highest award of the RHS, the Victoria Medal of Honor.  Subtitled "Perennials, Bulbs, Grasses and Ferns,", this book covers over 300 of the author's favorites from Acanthus to Zigadenus, covering both the common and lesser known.  What makes this perennial reference different from most, and quite entertaining as well as instructional, is that it is based on the author's lifetime of experience with perennials both at his famous home and nursery of Great Dixter (Kent, England) and travels abroad.  It is also written in his personal style of humor and frank observations on plants, both good and bad.  He refers to a species of Bidens for instance as having flowers of "washed-out yellow and badly shaped...Breeding and selection could radically improve matters.  Hardiness so-so."  The brief notes on each plant don't cover culture as most other texts, rather observations on habit, landscape use, characters good and bad, and a few select species or cultivars.  There are many beautiful illustrations of individual perennials and groupings.

The Explorer's Garden (more in-depth review)
Hinkley, Daniel.  1999.  Timber Press.  hard cover, 380pp.  A wonderful book for any perennial enthusiast, it covers by family some of the more uncommon yet still available perennials--not your run-of-the-mill border plants by any means.  The author combines his talents as a writer, artist, plant explorer and practical plantsman (of his well-known Heronswood nursery in Washington state) to cover plants he or others have collected from often remote regions of the world, illustrating many of these plants.
    As the fellow explorer Roy Lancaster mentions in his introduction, "Dan believes, as I do, that ideally a gardener needs to see both sides of the coin in order to better understand a plant and its likely requirements in the garden.  That is, the gardener should try to visit plants in their natural environment, whey they choose to grow, if he or she wants the plants to succeed in cultivation.  Of course, such opportunities are not available to every gardener, which is why Dan's experiences are so valuable."

Manual of Herbaceous Ornamental Plants--more in-depth review
Steven Still. 2nd ed. Stipes Publ., Champaign, IL. 1994. Softbound text for courses, but very useful as well for gardeners and the industry-- much good descriptive and cultural information on a breadth of plants including annuals, and the more important cultivars with a few color photos.

Taylors Guide to Perennials
Houghton Mifflin Co. One of the dozen of so in this series of hand-sized books, many color photos with plants arranged by color, and brief descriptive information. Nice for identifying plants and picking species in general.

Perennials for American Gardens
Clausen and Ekstrom. 1989. Random House. A nice hard-bound book with several thousand perennials, including many tender ones often grown as annuals; color photos; popular.

Hardy Herbaceous Perennials
Jelitto and Schacht, 2 vols. 1990. Timber Press. Two volume set, translated from the German, well worth the usually over $100 for the serious perennial grower. Many species and genera described which aren't found elsewhere.

Phillips and Rix, 2 vols. 1991. Random House. Nice 2 volume, soft, moderately priced set from the UK (so many cultivars aren't yet in the U.S.) but the photographs are exquisite, often with groupings of similar cultivar flowers or leaves, and native sites.

Perennial Garden Plants
Graham Stuart Thomas. 1990. Timber Press. Regarded by many as one of the top horticulturists of this century, this famous British perennial grower covers much depth with keen humor in this hardbound book.

Growing Perennials in Cold Climates--more in-depth review
Mike Heger and John Whitman, 1998, Contemporary Books. Written by two well-known and capable authors, Heger is co-owner of a perennials nursery in Minnesota and has been active in many perennial groups and grown thousands of perennials in the north. Whitman was a grower at the country's largest garden center nursery, also in Minnesota, and is also a popular writer and photographer. Probably the best information on this subject to date, with easy to read and complete information on each genus and good lists of cultivars and traits.

Armitage’s Manual of Annuals, Biennials and Half-hardy Perennials --(more in-depth review)
Allan Armitage.  2001.  Timber Press, 539pp, hardcover.
One of the more complete references you'll find on this topic, with 245 genera treated similarly to his Herbaceous Perennial Plants book with quite extensive information on specifics of culture, cultivars and their differences.

Continuous Bloom (more in-depth review)
Pam Duthie.  2000.  Ball Publishing.  328pp, hardcover.
Being a practicing landscape designer and consultant in the Chicago area, Pam brings to her first book a practical sense of what works in northern climates from a cultural and design perspective.  She covers 272 perennials (mainly cultivars which she has found the best), arranged by easily found and color coded chapters by month of bloom from March through November.  For each she has one of her lovely photographs, basics of culture, and other plants for combinations.

The Tri-State Gardener’s Guide (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut)
Ralph Snodsmith.  2001.  Cool Springs Press.  (review by S. Schneider)
Each entry in this guide provides you with information about a plant’s particular characteristics, habits and its basic requirements for active growth as well as Ralph Snodsmith’s personal experience and knowledge of the plant.  The reader will find such pertinent information as the plant’s mature height and spread, bloom period and colors (if any), sun and soil preferences, water requirements, fertilizing needs, pruning, care and pest information.

Perennial All-Stars: The 150 Best Perennials for Great-Looking, Trouble-Free Gardens
Cox, Jeff.  1998. Rodale Press, Inc., 344pp, softcover.
The major criteria that Cox uses in choosing perennials to be included in this book are wide availability as well as sturdy performance.  They are intended to be the backbone of your perennial garden, giving the most consistent results, year after year.  After beginning with the basics of perennial gardening – site selection, soil assessment, light and hardiness zone, he continues with his “Guide to the Stars”.  The plants are cross-indexed by grouping in various ways such as season by flower color, height, cold climates, deep south, dry or wet sites, full-sun or shade, groundcovers, foliage, butterfly or hummingbird attractants, and fragrance.  Each All Star entry with color photographs spotlights hardiness, season, size, color, light and soil requirements, plant and seed sources, and place of origin.  Specific cultivars are recognized, along with growing and propagating information. Also included are “Co-Stars”, plants that mix well with each entry and planting schemes for them. (Janet S.)

Alan Armitage's Photo Library of Herbaceous Plants on CD Rom
A 4-volume CD-set of 7,200 photos of perennials, plus annuals, bulbs, ferns, greenhouse crops and cut flowers and ornamental grasses.May view single or 6 images at a time, make pick lists, and more. Easily and quickly installed on most recent computers.

The Botanical Garden, vol. II Perennials and Annuals
Roger Phillips and M. Rix.  2002.  Firefly. hardcover, 539pp.
Just as there are "crossover" artists in the music world, this book might be termed a crossover reference in the plant world between botany and horticulture.  This is the other half of a series covering over 1000 genera, the first on woody plants, this one covering 550 herbaceous plant genera.  As with many of the other books by these authors, there are crisp color photos of each plant against a white background, plus in this book the flower parts as well.  Genera are grouped by families, arranged from most primitive to most advanced, and include many unusual genera of more botanical interest in addition to common garden genera.  Each genus features a botanical description plus key recognition features in more lay terms.  Not seen in many flower references is the ecology and geography of each.  Comments are brief about more important species, their relatives, culture and uses.  This would be a good reference for the more advanced gardener or one interested in relationships among such plants.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials
Marshall Craigmyle.  2002, Salamander Books.  289 pp.
This large soft cover book is any plant lovers ‘eye candy’.  The book contains wonderful photographs with over 500 genera and 1500 cultivars mentioned.  The author gives a quick synopsis for each genus before each pictorial extravaganza.  Below each photograph, information such as common name, height, spread, aspect, soil, hardiness and propagation is included.  The appendices list genera and species in a variety of combinations such as ‘perennials that are long flowering’, ‘perennials for acidic soils’ and even ‘perennials that have berries after flowering’.  The index is sorted by either scientific or common name for easy look up.  This encyclopedia can double as a coffee table book as well as being an amazing reference for any plant lover. (Leanne W.)

The Harrowsmith Perennial Garden
Patrick Lima. 1987.  Harrowsmith Publ.  160pp, softcover.
This book is organized by season and sub-season, (June, sweet harmony of early summer – July-August, midsummer magic), and the plants that grow most successfully at the Larkwhistle gardens in Ontario, Canada. This is particularly nice for the Northern gardener who wants successfully growing and flowering perennials throughout the growing season. He describes the plants, their growing characteristics and care. (Marilyn W.)

Perennials for the Prairies
Over the past few years, garden lovers have been treated to a number of books that are specifically focused on prairie growing conditions. These books have been published by the Extension units of the University of Saskatchewan (Hort Hints I and II) and the University of Alberta (The Home Gardening Series). Now both units have combined to co-produce a major new publication, Perennials for the Prairies. The book is written by Sara Williams (Extension Division, University of Saskatchewan) and Ed Toop (Department of Plant Science , retired, University of Alberta).
    The book consists of of three sections.
    1. Growing Perennials - Five chapters extensively cover such topics as planning your garden, site selection, fertilizer requirements, color selection, differentiating among bulbs, corms and tubers. Also included are transplanting and techniques on rejuvenation of old beds. There is also a special section devoted to lilies.
    2. Table listing - To assist you, the reader, more than 200 perennials listed in the book are arranged in an alphabetical table format cross referenced to the page numbers. This table includes information on color, size, form, season of bloom, faulty habits, uses, soil and light requirements, and the method of propagation.
    3. Reference Section - The book also contains descriptions and listsks of various cultivars, their culture requirements and uses in the landscape. A color photograph of each perennial listed is included, along with line drawings showing each flower in a garden setting and highlighting its adaptability to sun, partial, sun, or full shade.
    Perennials for the Prairies will soon become the recognized reference book for perennials suited to the harsh Western Canadian climate. Extension Division, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, S7N 0W0.

Herbaceous Perennial Plants--more in-depth review
Armitage, Allan M. 1997. 2nd ed. Stipes Publishing, Champaign, IL. Greatly expanded from the original 3000 species and cultivars of the first edition, this new one includes many more bulbs and breadth with more species and updated cultivars. Written in a personal style and interesting it has convenient keys and checklists for large genera, and is accurate taxonomically (as accurate as continuing changes allow!); a must for any perennial grower or enthusiast.

Time Tested Plants
Pamela Harper.  2000.  Timber Press.  351pp, hardcover.  The subtitle says it all, "Thirty years in a Four-Season Garden".  This well-known author in her latest book summarizes her 30 years of growing experience in a Virginia climate, with ideas for all seasons in the garden. Each season is treated, with subchapters, such as for Autumn and Winter berries, bark, winter flowers and other.  Each subchapter is basically descriptions of the author's favorite or recommended plants, with some accompanying excellent photos.  A great book for the mid-Atlantic, upper South, and similar climates (many of the plants are not hardy in the North).

Treasured Perennials.
Graham Stuart Thomas.  1999.  Sagapress, Sagaponack, NY.
If his book Perennial Garden Plants covers in usual fashion the many available, with the author's personal observations on each, then this book covers his favorites in a more conversational manner.  Grouped not by A-Z, the over 200 plants are in chapters by hardy ferns, dicots, hardy grasses, monocots and hardy orchids.  A specific plant can easily be found through the index.  Many of the photographs are the author's own.  There is even a chapter on Music as an Accompaniment to Flowers, poems of A.E. Housman set to choral music by the author.  This book is a wonderful insight into one of the top horticulturists of our time, a winner of many horticultural awards and medals, including one for his paintings and drawings of flowers.

Armitage's Garden Perennials, a Color Encyclopedia.
Allan Armitage.  2000.  Timber Press.  323pp, hardcover.  If you like the author's Cdrom of perennial photos, but have wanted a hardcover version to hold in your hands and carry around, then this is it.  With almost 1500 photos from the author of various perennials and cultivars, each genus also has some brief description and cultural information.  The purpose and strength of the book however is in the number and high quality of its photos.  For instance, of the many dozen cultivars of Heuchera currently available, 25 of the more common are shown here.  This reference should help in the selection of cultivars for one's garden, as well as help in identification of ones missing labels!

Other Plants
Garden Plants of Japan (more in-depth review)
Ran Levy-Yamamori 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.

New Book of Herbs
Jekka McVicar.  London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2002. 288 pages, hardcover.
This beautifully photographed all around resource provides information about how to grow and use herbs. McVicar covers organic production and culture as well as culinary and medicinal uses of herbs. Additionally, she includes specific information on propagation, maintenance and harvesting for 100 of her favorites. Jekka McVicar is an experienced herbalist who cultivates over 400 varieties of culinary and medicinal herbs. This is her third book on organic herbs. (NP)

Black Magic and Purple Passion (more in-depth review)
Karen Platt.  2004. 3rd ed.  Black Tulip Publ, Sheffield, England.  softcover, 239pp.
With the revival in recent years of monochromatic themes in plants and design, this book covers a color most may use but not think much about.  By an English author, plantswoman, and designer, it covers over 2750 dark plants with 425 photos, more than you might imagine exist.  In fact this topic is her passion, having also founded the International Black Plant Society complete with journal.  All plant groups are covered in her book, from trees to perennials to tropical exotics.  As the title indicates, it includes plants as well with purple flowers and foliage, even those dark red ones.  The book begins on the use of black, and ends with suggested plants by season and suppliers in both Europe and the U.S.  Most of the book is an A-Z listing by genera, with brief cultural information, but mainly descriptions of cultivars, some of which may not be available in the U.S.  Whether designing a dark garden, or merely expanding your palette to include dark plants, you should find this reference useful.

Gold Fever
Karen Platt.  2004. Karen Platt, Sheffield, England.  softcover, 208pp.
By an English author, plantswoman, and designer, this book covers over 1350 plants with 275 photos to create a gold effect in gardens.  The first quarter of the book covers the botany of gold in plants, variations of gold, gold plants for each season, and how to use gold in the garden.  The middle half of the book is an A-Z listing of plants by genus, covering mainly trees, shrubs and perennials.  For each is given brief culture, and mainly descriptions of cultivars, some of which may not be available in the U.S.  The last quarter of the book covers gold plants for v

Armitage's Garden Annuals  (more in-depth review)
Allan Armitage.  2004.  Timber Press, hardcover, 368pp.
The author needs no introduction, having previous excellent and popular references on perennials and annuals.  Subtitled "a color encyclopedia," that is just what this reference is, with over 1300 color photos of annuals.  Although an excellent companion to his previous Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-hardy Perennials, this reference also can be used alone.  If you are visually oriented as I am, perhaps you might even get more meaning from this one.  The text is written with humor, his experience with performance and combinations, and mentions the basics of care with the details left to the previous book.  While the previous book is an A to Z listing of genera, species, and cultivars, with detailed descriptions, this book is a similar listing only with photos and narrative text.  Of the many flowers that could be included, those depicted include plants "interesting, important, or overlooked."

Medicinal Plants of the World (more in-depth review)
Ben-Erik van Wyk and Michael Wink.  2004. Timber Press.  480pp, hardcover. Interest is increasing by researchers and users in using plants medicinally, both for traditional uses and as potential new sources of drugs and treatments.  This textbook for researchers, doctors, students, and serious practitioners of herbal medicines describes more than 320 more commonly used plants in detail, of all climates from tropical to desert, all plant types from trees to cacti, and from the common to the very unusual genera. These descriptions are accompanied by very clear photos of plants and parts used.  A quick guide and table covers many more plants, over 900 total.  Although written more user-friendly than a pharmacology text, the academic writing style includes many chemical and medicinal terms (well-defined in the glossary).  These reflect the backgrounds of the authors respectively in botany (South Africa) and pharmaceutical biology (Germany) at universities. Casual users of such herbal medicines should use caution with this text, as potential toxicities and side effects may not be mentioned.

Scented Plants, Cassell's Directory of.
David Squire.  2000.  Cassell and Co., 112pp, hardcover.
Written by a British horticulturist and prolific author, this book seems fairly well adapted for the American gardener.  Hardiness zones for the U.S. have been added and seem accurate if not conservative, and the over 250 plants should be found without too much trouble, depending on region.  The only exceptions are the few times cultivars are listed, many being from the UK.  The first part is on planning the garden, with ideas for seasonal gardens in addition to the how and why of scents.  The second part covers many aspects from buying plants, to creating (with illustrations) types of gardens such as water and bog or rock.  Finally is a lengthy plant listing by type, such as trees or perennials.  Included with each is a crisp color photo, color icons on requirements, with descriptions of scents and uses.   If you're new to scented gardening, consider this a good beginning reference.


The Random House Book of Bulbs.
Roger Phillips and Philip Rix. 1999.   Random House, 255 pages.
I found this book to be very helpful if you were to be looking for information on bulbs.  Almost every page has a color photo of the plant that is being talked about.  This book has a great deal of information regarding every plant.  How to install the bulb into the ground, native regions, hardiness are all talked about in here.  Bulbs from all over the world can be found. A must read for any bulb enthusiast! (Chris H.)

Bulbs (more in-depth review)
John Bryan.  2002. Timber Press, 524pp, hardcover. revised ed.
First published by the author in 1989, this book was then selected as one of the 75 top gardening books by the American Horticulture Society.  This revised edition is even more extensive and definitive, covering most ornamental genera (230 in all) and many of their species, cultivars and selections arising from bulbs.  Bulbs here is used in the general sense, including bulbs, corms, tubers, and rhizomes.  Most of the book is an alphabetical listing of these and their in-depth information.  There are over 1100 color photographs of close-ups of flowers, flowers in their natural habitats, or color illustrations from historic magazines. With all these parts, this is one of the top references you could find on bulbs whether a botanist, gardener, student, or professional.  Everyone is bound to learn much just browsing, although it is most useful as a reference-- one that should be in any serious gardener's or professional's library, or anyone interested in bulbous plants.   The award-winning author has trained and worked in Britain and the U.S., writes, lectures and consults.

Bulbs for All Seasons
Kathy Brown.  2000.  Aquamarine (UK). hardcover, 160pp.
This is a lavishly illustrated how-to book, as well as book on common and lesser known bulbs for various seasons, lovely just to look at and get ideas from the author's artistic compositions.  There is the bulb history, then various aspect of bulb care including a calendar of activities by season.  Particular tips for planting in various places from hanging baskets and other containers to under trees are well illustrated with close-ups.  A short gallery and ideas for various seasons is shown, including those for indoors over winter.  If you want to learn more about a particular bulb, you can consult the alphabetical listing with text and photos.  History, culture, and some main selections are covered for each.  The English author is avid gardener, writer and lecturer.

Bulbs of North America. (more in-depth review)
Jane McGary.  2001. Timber Press and the North American Rock Garden Society.  251pp, hardcover.
With chapters by about a dozen authors, specialists in the rock garden field, the major genera of bulbs are covered that one might find growing native in North America, as well as a few others.  This book is a good reference for two groups-- those merely hiking in the wild and wishing to know the bulbous plants they might be seeing, and those experienced gardeners wanting to grow some of these in either rock or native gardens. Mainly text, there is a center section of color plates illustrating representatives of the plants described.

A Natural History of Ferns  (more in-depth review)
Robbin Moran.  2004.  Timber Press.  hardcover, 301 pp.
A fascinating book written by the curator of ferns of the New York botanical garden.  In a style alternating between scientific and easily readable, it gives a whole new and fascinating appreciation to this group of non-flowering plants.  Main sections include the life cycle of ferns, classification, fern fossils, adaptations, fern geography, and ferns and people.  The 33 chapters have such intriguing titles as "Robinson Crusoe's Ferns", "Bracken, the Poisoner", "Sporadic Results", and "At the Movies".

Fern Growers Manual (more in-depth review)
Barbara Joe Hoshizaki and Robbin Moran.  2001. Timber Press.  hardcover, 604pp. revised and expanded edition.
Whatever region you live in, if you want to know more about ferns-- the different ones from hardy to tropicals, indoors or outdoors, their culture, and much more-- you should consider this very useful and readable reference.  This second edition is greatly expanded, covering over 700 species from 124 genera, compared to 390 species from 89 genera in the first edition.  Details on each include descriptions, accurate black and white illustrations, culture, hardiness and range where grown, various names, uses, and main cultivars or related species.  While these species descriptions comprise the bulk of the text, general advice is also given on all aspects of culture from propagation to planting and problems.  The authors are quite experienced and respected authorities on this group of plants.

Ferns to Know and Grow
Gordon Foster.  1984. Timber Press.
Thought of as the “fern bible”, this book is full of great, practical information on culture, propagation and identification.  This book was first written with the Northwestern fern lover and grower in mind but now includes species at home in eastern and southern states as well.  The information in this work is aided with detailed line drawings of leaves and stems of each species covered.  There are also a few black and white photos showing growing habits of some of the species. Gordon Foster is a retired professional engineer who became interested in ferns in 1948.  He is a member of many fern societies, a widely respected lecturer, and has received numerous awards.  He is a Fellow of the botany department at Drew University, and also holds honorary positions at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and New York Botanic Garden.

The Plantfinder's Guide to Garden Ferns.
Martin Rickard.  2000.  Timber Press.  192pp, hardcover.  The author owns a renowned fern nursery in the UK, has won many awards for flower show displays, writes and is consulted widely on ferns.  In this, one of the most complete horticultural references on ferns for the garden to date, the author covers hundreds of species and cultivars.  For each he notes distinguishing botanical characters, and the ecological niche where they grow, particularly in regards to soils and hardiness.  The latter is key in proper garden siting.  Of course there are also chapters on overall botany and history, choosing and using, special situations, propagation and pests and diseases.  Appendices list where to buy, see, and read more on ferns, as well as various national (UK) collections. Well-illustrated.

Tropicals, exotics

Spectacular Container Plants
Byron Martin and L. Martin.  2001.  Willow  Creek.
This book is mainly an alphabetical listing of  80 genera of flowering plants, suitable to containers, with many tropical.  Some are common such as fuchisa, clivia, brugmansia, and passionflower.  Most are less common such as cantua, cestrum, hardenbergia, and stictocardia.  Each plant has an outline of culture, plus a few paragraphs on unique characteristics and growing tips.  If you are looking for less common "specialty annuals" for garden containers, or unusual tropicals for an indoor conservatory, this book of beautiful photos would help.  The authors run the famous and established Logee's Greenhouses, a mail order firm of such plants in Connecticut.

Tropical Garden Style with Hardy Plants
Alan Hemsley.  2002.  Guild of Master Craftsmen (UK). paperback 186pp.
This British reference is useful for any temperate climate gardener seeking a tropical effect of bold textures, spikes, fronds, feathery foliage, or bright colors.  Unlike several other similar references, this doesn't just cover tropical plants, but any plants that create these effects, from hardy trees to palms.  Most of the book is groupings of these plants, by types such as ferns, by effects such as palm-like, by growth such as rosettes or climbers.  Each plant has a color photo and brief description of uses, selections, and culture.  Site needs, and cold tolerance, are depicted through symbols.

Christine Recht and Max F. Wetterwald. 1982. Timber Press.
This book offers great information on bamboo morphology and structure; as well as the characteristics of the major genera.   Species and cultivars are examined for  use in gardens, containers, and for cultivation and propagation.  Included with the text are over a 100 photographs and drawings, 68 of which are in color.  The color photos really show how bamboos can be used for various effects in a garden design.  The line drawings are also very helpful for identification.  Recht is a journalist specializing in building interiors and garden design.  Wetterwald is a photographer and photographic journalist who concentrates mainly on themes of gardens and wildlife.

The Gardener's Guide to Growing Temperate Bamboos.
Michael Bell.  2000.  Timber Press.  159pp, hardcover.  Learning bamboos as an avocation, the author holds one of the national collections (UK) and is president of the bamboo society in the UK.  The first part of the book covers the world of bamboos, the botany, cultivation and propagation.  The majority then cover the A-Z of genera, species and cultivars.  There are also sections on bamboo gardens, where to see them, buy them and read more on them.  Each plant description has the cold hardiness, size and leaf size, followed by description of the plants, habit, ad specific maintenance and cultural tips. Well illustrated.

The Exotic Garden-- more in-depth review
Richard Iversen. Taunton Press, 1999. 169pp, hardcover. One of the best books out on the trend of using tropical plants in temperate gardens. The author (a teacher in NY state, and formerly in the West Indies in botanic gardens) has experience directly with tropicals and temperate climates, which makes this book so practical and useful. There are plenty of ideas on new plants and designs for the experienced, yet directions and diagrams on the basics for beginners.


Gardening with Grass--more in-depth review
King, Michael and Piet Oudolf.  1998.  Timber Press.  hard cover, 152 pp.  These two European garden designers have an excellent reference for Europe and the U.S.  Grasses, including the rushes and sedges, are described, followed by the many sites they may be used and for various purposes.  Lists for such purposes are included with each, as well as beautiful photographs.  Combinations are then shown and described for harmony, contrast, seasonal effects-- all in a naturalistic style.  Grasses are shown as ideal for companion planting with other perennials.  A couple grass borders are then described and illustrated.  Only then are tips given on growing grasses, along with a list and description of over 150.  A great reference for those interested in this still underutilized group of versatile and generally hardy plants.

The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses.
Rick Darke.  1999.  Orion Publ.  325pp, hardcover.  Having written a couple books already on this subject, and lectured widely on it, he is recognized internationally as an expert on ornamental grasses.  Formerly at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania for twenty years, being involved with plant identification and exploration, he now operates as a landscape consultant.  Roughly the first half of the book gives an appreciation for grasses and their relatives from sedges to bamboos, names, design and culture.  The second half is an encyclopedia from A-Z, with some distinguishing features of each genus, species or key cultivars, as well as any peculiar cultural tips and hardiness.


Armitage's Native Plants for American Gardens  (more in-depth review)
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).

Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines
William Cullina.  2002.  Houghton Miflin. hardcover 354pp.
Writer, lecturer, propagator and nursery manager at the New England Wildflower Society, the author covers about 1000 plants in this companion book to his similar one on wildflowers.  Each plant has characteristics mentioned such as growing zones, soil, size and color, along with further descriptions and species.  Many have excellent photographs taken by the author.  The selection of plants covers the whole country.  While most the book is the A-Z listing of plants, there are tips on ecological gardening at the beginning, and on propagation at the end.

Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. (more in-depth review)
1989 (reprint).  Lawrence Newcomb.  Little, Brown and Co.  softcover.
One of the easiest and most accurate field guides to wildflowers of the Northeast and North Central states that you might find. A simple key based on basic flower and plant parts leads you to a three-digit code, which leads you to the possible choices complete with accurate line drawings.  Quick and easy for the lay person, devoid of difficult botanical terms, this system and book includes wildflowers, flowering shrubs and vines.  The fact it is still in print after several decades, and still as accurate, attests to its popularity and usefulness.

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