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Best Trees for Your Garden

Best Trees for Your Garden
Allen Paterson
Firefly Books,
Publication Date: 

paper, 208 p., $24.95

Allen Paterson, a truly gifted author, has written a book that can be appreciated by both experienced and novice gardeners, and his elegant prose is a joy to read. He begins with an overview of plant ecology and environmental factors that affect the growth of trees; he continues with the historical background of the impact of mankind on plant habitat, focusing on the trees of both Britain and North America. He also includes practical advice on the selection and placement of trees, listing the best trees to plant for various conditions and providing a directory of more than 300 trees with details on foliage, flower, height and plant habit. The photographs of trees by the author and photographer Steven Wooster are breathtaking works of art.

Paterson’s charming writing style is lyrical when he comments on “weeping willows dangling their fingers into the water.” It often conveys sly wit, such as in his reflections on climate zones often being a state of mind. His ability to convey biological principles in an articulate yet easily understood manner makes learning complex concepts pleasurable.

Trained in horticulture at the University Botanic Gardens, Cambridge, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Patterson became curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, before he moved to Canada to serve as director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario, and as a professor in the Department of Biology at McMaster University. Currently, he is a Distinguished Advisor to the Board of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Paterson is also the author of many books, including Plants for Shade and Woodland, Designing a Garden and Herbs in the Garden. Highly recommended.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden