Where you garden matters enormously, of course, for what you can grow, and how well. The Pacific Northwest is a Shangri-la of sorts for gardeners, and although that's where co-authors Susan Carter, Carrie Becker and Bob Lilly gained their vast collective garden expertise, I'm pleased to say that there's no gloating to be found in Perennials: The Gardener's Reference not even about being able to grow Meconopsis only the voices of hands-on gardeners who know and love their plants. Together, they have assembled an accessible, information-packed treasury of garden-worthy plants, more than 2,700 of them. An essay on general maintenance complements plant-specific recommendations in the A-to-Z directory, and accompanying lists offer other ways into the data. There are suggested collections of plants for specialty gardens (spring ephemerals, meadow plants, plants too tall for words ), and my favorite, a list which sorts the plants from the directory into their plant families. That list, I think, has the potential to be very useful, especially for gardeners looking to meet less familiar cousins of plants they already know and grow. I also love the user-friendly tables that accompany each entry, which chart hardiness zones and heights and spreads, details on flowers and foliage, and even notes on the quirks and particularities of individual species and cultivars exactly the sort of information you need to choose among them. The photography in Perennials is fabulous, too. This book is an appealing new acquaintance which appears quite likely to grow into a very best friend.

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