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The Complete Encyclopedia of Garden Flowers

The Complete Encyclopedia of Garden Flowers
Kate Bryant
Thunder Bay Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 703 p., $24.95

This reference work is based on the concept that blossom color is what guides most gardeners in their plant purchases. Bold, full-color portraits display floral beauty on most of its pages to prove this point and provide a selections guide. The photographs include favorite annuals, biennials, perennials, bulbs, vines, shrubs and trees for the exterior landscape, as well as a number of popular indoor flowering plants. Individual plant descriptions cover general cultivation, blooming season, fragrance, plant habit (size and width), hardiness and frost tolerance. The "top tip" for each species is helpful in making appropriate plant selections; included are such items as the degree of maintenance required or the invasiveness of a particular plant.

A few brief pages are devoted to choosing the right plant for a particular climate. There is also a useful calendar of seasonal plant care, a guide to flower types and one also on leaf patterns. An index directs the reader to both the genus entry and other references throughout the text.

Author Kate Bryant's book is disappointingly vague when it comes to information about planning a garden featuring flowering plants. Most garden designers emphasize size, shape and foliage texture, because these are prominent for a longer period in the growing season; however, Bryant gives short shrift to these plant features. Neither descriptions of suitable companion plantings nor a few examples appear in the text of this colorful book.

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