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Continuous Bloom

Continuous Bloom
Pam Duthie
Batavia, Ill.: Ball Publishing
Publication Date: 

cloth, 326 p., $39.95

In a unique format that spotlights one flower and its blooming period per page, Pam Duthie, a local garden designer, has written an excellent guide to keeping a colorful garden. Subtitled "A Month-by-Month Guide to Nonstop Color in the Perennial Garden," this book is organized by color-coding the top of each page with a monthly flowering time frame, making it easy to figure out what blooms when.

Each page features a photograph of a flower, describing its plant type, hardiness zone, length of bloom, height, light exposure, care, uses and best combinations with other plants. The most valuable part of each description is the the author's information about the plant's growing habit and insider's tips, which you rarely see in print. The Serbian bellfower, or Campanula poscharskyana, Ms. Duthie says, gets very lanky in too much shade and dies out, and she advises readers to try a white-flowered cultivar instead. She reminds you that astilbes are "gross feeders" and reveals the short life of cardinal flowers. This hard-earned advice is what makes the book so practical, even though it is too optimistic about the length of bloom.

This book concludes with valuable nitty-gritty tips for garden care, perennials listed by characteristics such as deer resistance and a common and botanical index to plants. Continuous Bloom is a book you will refer to not just in the summer months but all year long.

— Adele Kleine, Master Gardener at the Chicago Botanic Garden and contributing writer to Chicagoland Gardening magazine.