These past few rainy days, I’ve been reading “Perennials Short and Tall: A Seasonal Progression of Flowers for Your Garden” written by Moya L. Andrews and illustrated by Gillian Harris (Quarry Books).
I knew right away when I read the preface that I was reading a book written by a true gardener.
“…Flowers are not a luxury for us, they are a necessity, and they provide a kind of anticipatory structure in our lives. We look forward to the appearance of the varied types of flowers in our gardens, and treasure their arrival in the same way we treasure the reappearance of dear friends. Each winter we await the early spring flowers excitement that is palpable. Knowing the impermanence of each individual flower does not daunt us. It just makes us savor their special time with us, as we gaze at them hoping to imprint them in our memory.”
The first four chapters of the book cover gardening basics ranging from plant nomenclature to preparing planting beds, caring for perennials, and even how to display flowers in your home. I enjoyed reading these chapters, even as an experienced gardener, because they aren’t strictly “how to”, even though that’s the focus. It’s more like listening to an experience gardener provide her own insights and tips gleaned from years of actually gardening.
The last three chapters include information on 25 perennials that bloom in spring, summer, or fall, with a focus on those that do well in Zones 4 – 7. The perennials included are good, reliable performers, that any gardener in a temperate climate should have success with, given basically good growing conditions.
The book ends with 22 appendices for further reference and includes list such as “Plants that Prefer Constant Moisture”, “Drought and Heat-Tolerant Plants, Short Perennials for Summer Bloom, etc.
My favorite appendix is “Lessons Learned in a Garden in the Lower Midwest” and my favorite lessons listed include these two:
“If a plant does not thrive, move it and amend the soil before replanting. Give it three chances (that is, three moves) before giving up, by then you will be exhausted and so will the plant.”
“Keep a garden journal so that you remember what you don’t want to forget.”
This book would make an excellent gift for the beginning gardener, who has discovered the joy of having a garden full of perennials, and wants to learn more about how to have flowers blooming in succession through spring, summer, and fall.
But as an experienced gardener I enjoyed it because it is well-written, with garden sayings and verses sprinkled throughout, and beautiful color illustrations of each flower.
(If you are interested, the author, Moya Andrews also presents Focus on Flowers programs on WIFU radio, which are archived online and available as podcasts.)