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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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The Only Book About Perennials You Will Ever Need; a book review for

Armitage’s Garden Perennials, second edition, Allan M. Armitage, Timber Press

Visiting a perennial nursery for the first time can be an overwhelming experience because choosing plants can be a challenging decision- making process, especially when there are so many to consider. Even seasoned gardeners report that they lose all sense of rationality when confronted by a sea of blooming nursery inventory. Most report taking home more plants than they can place and some admit to buying perennials that are unsuitable for their growing conditions, simply because the plants were so appealing. This book helps to avoid such errors, by allowing both new and seasoned North American gardeners to research prospective plants, in order to make wise decisions before travelling to the nursery.

In this updated edition of a best seller, the reader is introduced to no less than 136 reliable and satisfying perennials that the author has observed or grown himself in disparate climates from temperate Montreal, Canada to hot Florida, USA. This experience has allowed Mr. Armitage to offer zone-appropriate guidance to readers residing in a wide variety of climates. It is reassuring to absorb specific plant advice based on ones geographic location. Few garden writers make the effort to be that considerate of their readers.

While the publisher calls this book an encyclopedia, I am more inclined to consider it a visit with a beloved gardening mentor. Scanning the text is like enrolling in a private tutorial with a master teacher who is also a warm, approachable friend. Mr. Armitage treats the readers as welcome guests in his own garden, as he stops to talk anecdotally about each plant and readily explains why he likes or dislikes a specific variety or cultivar.

The invaluable selection of perennials covered by the book represents those that have an established record of growing successfully. Each plant has the potential to bring gardeners pleasure, depending on individual needs and preferences. It is helpful, too, that the author’s own photos of these perennials were shot in realistic, unstaged settings.

In addition to the concise yet comprehensive presentation of perennials, a chapter listing plants for specific characteristics, rounds out the book. These lists include aggressive plants, those suitable for consistently moist conditions, cut flowers, drought tolerance, fragrance, ground cover, foliage, fruit, crawlers, and evergreens.

Mr. Armitage is a professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia where he teaches and conducts research on new garden plants. He is also an internationally respected consultant and lecturer, and the recipient of numerous awards from nursery trade groups and horticultural societies. If one is restricted to buying only one book about perennials, this is the one to get.