For gardeners who want to create their own piece of paradise, a good place to start is the massive American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. This exhaustively comprehensive reference book features 15,000 plants from new and exotic specimens to heirloom and garden favorites listed alphabetically by botanical name (a common-name index is also provided for new gardeners). Full-color pictures and concise profiles of each plant written by horticultural specialists are enormously helpful planning tools. Hardiness and heat-zone maps, an extensive glossary and index round out this invaluable reference guide to all things that grow.

Deanna Larson is a writer in Nashville who describes herself as a journeyman gardener.

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