paper, 388 p., $99.95
The goal of the Plant User Handbook: A Guide to Effective Specifying is to create an understanding among landscape professionals of the principles of biology and ecology so that these can be interpreted and used in the development of sustainable landscapes. Through such an understanding, landscape designers and managers can effect lasting beauty in the landscape.
The text traces the sources of common problems that face landscape professionals in the United Kingdom today. For example, the discussion of plant origin issues spells out in detail the challenges relating to exotic materials. Although American gardeners are often envious of the wealth of plants available in the U.K. and European horticultural trade, the abundance of plants complicates decision making. The Plant User Handbook emphasizes the need to establish specifications that clearly indicate individual plant tolerances for varying site conditions. Based on its conclusion that the design process must take into account ecological and biological factors, contributing authors discuss managing plant growth on landscape sites and the establishment and management of woody and herbaceous plants.
Some of the challenges that landscape designers, contractors, and landscape managers face abroad are the same as those encountered by U.S. professionals. The thoughtful discussion of these problems will be of interest to both professionals and dedicated gardeners.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden