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Choosing Plants for the Landscape

Here are some books to help you select and grow the most suitable plants for your landscape.

Kitchen gardeners will love the revised edition of “The Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden” by David Hirsch from Ten Speed Press. This features 70 scrumptious recipes along with everything you need to know about selecting the best edible flowers, herbs, and veggies for your garden. For each of the 75 plants, the author explains the different varieties that are available. He focuses specific attention on heirlooms. He explains how to plant, harvest, and prepare them in the kitchen. In addition, there are chapters on kitchen garden design and gardening techniques. This is illustrated with beautiful line drawings.

“The Tree Book” by Jeff Meyer from Scriber has become a classic. The author focuses on over 60 kinds of trees and explains how to choose the best ones for your particular situation. In this easy to use guide, the trees are organized alphabetically by common name. For each, you’ll find a complete description, and details on its features and cultural needs. For quick reference, there are all sorts of handy tables, charts, and lists. There is also a chapter on propagation. This is illustrated with line drawings.

For shady landscapes, the best book by far is “Making the Most of Shade” by Larry Hodgson from Rodale. The plant directory features profiles of the 200 best herbaceous, grasses, and climbing plants for shade. These feature full details with growing tips, care, their landscape performance, and related species. For quick reference, use the sidebar listing the description, garden use, and the cultural requirements. Part I explains how to create shade gardens, how to choose suitable plants, and how to care for them. This is illustrated with gorgeous color photos.

“Landscape Plants for the Gulf and South Atlantic Coasts” by Robert J. Black et al from the University Press of Florida is an invaluable regional guide. It explains the factors to consider when you are choosing plants for the area. The authors focus specifically on salinity since this is a potential problem in the area. This is one of the few books I know that tells you exactly how to choose healthy plants at nurseries and garden centers. Readers will learn how to plant properly, get them established, and care for them. Most of the book is devoted to the plant directory with over 400 plants. For each, there is a color photo, and description along with details on its cultural needs and origins.

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