A Gardening Book Everyone Should Have
In the winter, I spend a lot of my time drawing plans and making plant lists. Even though I’ve been doing this for years, part of me secretly dreads it because I know I’m going to spend a lot of painful hours figuring out what plants I’m going to use. Although I have first hand experience with a wide variety of trees and shrubs, I still find it to be the most challenging and time consuming part of my job. Sometimes I’m not sure what my best choices are for a particular site. I might not have first hand experience with whatever tree or shrub I want to include, or maybe it’s one I’d like to try and I’m not sure how it’s going to perform.
Aside from consulting nurserymen and making phone calls to my garden cohorts, I rely on reference books. I have a bunch of them on my shelves, but The Homeowner's Complete Tree and Shrub Handbook: The Essential Guide to Choosing, Planting and Maintaining Perfect Landscape Plants (2008 Storey Publishing) by Penelope O’Sullivan is by far the best one I’ve put my hands on.
The first two sections address design and criteria for choosing plants which include beautiful photographs, illustrations and expert guidance. My favorite part of the book is the chapter titled: Trees and Shrubs A-Z. Not only is it alphabetized so you can find plants easily, the author is generous with real life information on the merits or problems of each one. At the bottom of every plant listing, she includes her favorites (Designers Choices) based on her own experience. I’d have to make a lot of phone calls to get this kind of information! Karen Bussolini’s beautiful photographs present an accurate picture of what the plant really looks like close up as well as in the landscape.
I keep this book on my drawing table at all times, and when I’m trying to come up with a plan I’m particularly grateful for the ideas it generates. It’s surely a book that would be useful to any novice or experienced gardener, whether they need help planning, planting or maintaining their landscape. Kudos to Penelope O’Sullivan and Karen Bussolini for doing a bang up job on a book that is sorely needed and one I would never be without!
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