Need Help?

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

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

Entries in Kerry Ann Mendez (1)


The Ultimate Flower Gardener's Top Ten Lists: Book Review for

The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Top Ten Lists by Kerry Ann Mendez, Lone Oak Press,

The exponential growth of flower gardening that has taken place during the last 20 years has brought a rather impatient and time constrained gardener into our midst. Several manuals that target this harried hobbyist have been welcomed and reviewed here; this is another publication in that genre.

Those who cannot devote the time necessary to experience horticulture as a journey of discovery, and who want a quick fix, will appreciate the simplicity and clarity that this author brings to gardening - a subject usually over layered with detailed information and laborious advice. The busy novice gardener needs to know that this is a book worth reading. The author set out to prepare an easy-as-pie guide for those who want to instantly create beautiful, low maintenance, perennial flower gardens in colder climates. She has succeeded beyond all expectations.

Kerry Ann Mendez is a creative horticultural educator who has taken a fresh approach to writing a gardening book. The how-to has been broken down into 70 essential topics, each with its own dedicated list of top ten ideas to guide the gardener to success. Many of the topics are particular to specific gardening challenges, so that readers may hone in only on those issues that are relevant to their own gardening environment. Novice gardeners, and those that are new to colder climates, do not need to consult all 70 topics to be successfull; but that should not stop them from studying all of the essentials because the book is an enjoyable read.

The 70 topics designated by the author are divided among 9 overarching themes that include:-

  • perennials
  • challenging sites
  • flowering shrubs
  • foliage
  • garden design
  • garden care
  • pest control
  • money saving tips
  • and more

For example, Chapter Two, titled Top Ten Perennial Lists, alone contains 21 lists that deal with issues such as spring blooming plants for shade, short lived plants, poisonous, or blue-tiful perennials. Another chapter offers recommendations for plants that grow best in sun and those that are best for wet soil, while an entire chapter, devoted to foliage, is further broken down into nine lists that range from grasses to tri-color foliage. Suggestions, again in the form of lists, are offered for pruning, weeding, tool selection, soil testing, and propagation. The section on design deals with plant combinations, colors, containers, and winter landscapes. The chapter on pest control includes lists of plants that are resistant to deer, rabbits, and voles and tips on how to control slugs. The author compiled lists that touch upon every conceivable aspect of gardening needed to successfully grow perennials in cold climates. Concerned prospective gardeners will be relieved to learn that such a goal is realistic and easily achievable.

The lists in this book are the culmination of the author’s 25 years of work creating gardens in USDA zones 3, 4 and 5. These cold climates are defined by a very short blooming season, a fact of life that makes the gardener rather impatient and easily frustrated, especially when thing go wrong. Heavy snow can disfigure flowering shrubs, plants dangerously break dormancy during mid winter thaws, and desirable perennials, that are known to bloom in warmer climates, do not perform well here. The author guides the reader in overcoming all of these obstacles.  By following her guidelines, a first-time cold climate gardener will be able to create attractive and thriving flower beds in the first season of gardening.

Novices are sometimes overwhelmed by the wealth of horticultural information that they think they need in order to get started. Not anymore! This book encapsulates all of that knowledge, summarizes the essentials and removes the stress of the unknown. Owning this book is the next best thing to hiring a garden coach.