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Books on Choosing Garden Plants

There are many kinds of plants for the landscape from woody to herbaceous. Sometimes, this can make it hard to choose. It helps if you can first determine what category you’re interested in, for example ornamental grasses or spring bulbs.

Once you’ve selected the basic kind you want to grow, then it is easy enough to explore that category further through garden magazines, books and other sources. Regarding books, there is bound to be a title on each type of plant. Let’s look at just a couple helpful titles.

“Magic of Irises” by Barbara Perry Lawton was published by Fulcrum. This lushly color-illustrated hardcover contains everything you need to know on the subject. With this comprehensive title, you’re bound to succeed with these garden plants.

The author provides in-depth details on the folklore, history, botany, uses, and classifications of these much-loved plants. She also explains their cultural needs and care, and has suggestions on how to use them in garden designs.

Chapters are devoted to all the major kinds of irises, including the bearded, beardless, and bulbous ones. Within these chapters, there are complete descriptions on each kind with specific details on its needs along with tips on how to grow them. In addition, this title also covers the propagation of irises as well as how to hybridize them. The appendix presents a list of iris organizations.

“Grasses and Bamboos” by Noel Kingsbury was published by Ryland Peters and Small. Illustrated in full color, this title focuses on the various qualities that bamboo, grasses, and related plants can bring to the landscape. Among these are the visual attributes, such as varying forms and interesting textures as well as the soothing sound of breezes rustling the foliage.

The author devotes a chapter to each of the different areas of the landscape, such as species for shades, water gardens, beds and borders, ground covers, etc. Whatever kind of growing conditions or space you may have available, the author has suggestions.

In the plant directory, the plants are organized alphabetically by Latin name. For each one, there’s a color photo, description, details on its hardiness, mature size, growing needs, and landscape uses. There is also a helpful chapter that explains how to buy plants, plant care, propagation, and container gardening.

“Ground Covers for the South” by Marie Harrison was published by Pineapple Press. Lushly illustrated in color, this comprehensive paperback has plant profiles for all the various species that are used as ground covers in the area.

The first chapter profiles herbaceous species that are most commonly grown. Other chapters focus on particular species that can be used as ground covers, such as shrubs, ferns, herbs, annuals, and native plants.

For each plant profile, the author discusses its family, origins, common names, hardiness zone, growing conditions, care, description, propagation, and non-landscape uses. The chapter on annuals has an easy to use table of recommended species. The author also devotes a chapter to invasive or aggressive species that should be avoided.

The appendix has very helpful lists that can be used for quick reference, such as ones for sun or shade, ones that tolerate drought, or wet conditions.

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