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Entries in Timber Press (12)


The Gardener's Color Palette: Book Review for

The Gardeners Color Palette, paint your garden with 100 extraordinary flower choices Tom Fischer & Clive Nichols, Timber Press

The title says it all. Designing with flowers is an art and many gardeners with a penchant for creative expression report that planning flowerbeds is akin to painting. Imaginative gardeners will be pleased that the contents of this book are arranged by color, like a box of watercolor paints, making the planning and execution of a floral color composition in the garden a much easier task.

The book is divided into ten color-based chapters: Red,  Orange-Peach, Yellow-Cream,  Green-Chartreuse,  Blue,  Lavendar-Lilac-Mauve,  Pink-magenta,  Deep Purple-Maroon-Plum,  Brown- Bronze- Copper, and  White-Ivory. Within each of the ten color chapters, are photographs of ten flowers, including perennials, bulbs, and flowering shrubs. Some are popular and well known and some are uncommon flowers such as Fritillaria, Corydalis, and species Lilies. Every plant is profiled with its Latin and common name, a pronunciation guide for the Latin name, its classification as perennial, bulb or shrub, the height and spread at maturity, bloom time and hardiness zone. In addition, each profile includes clearly identifiable care symbols for light and moisture requirements. Most impressive, however, is the wealth of information encapsulated into a few lines of expert advice that accompanies each plant’s profile. Mr. Fischer writes beautifully; each paragraph is a gem, like each breathtaking image that accompanies his text.

Some of the plants included in this book are hardy from zone 6 and up and are, therefore, new to me because I garden in Zone 5; that does not make them any less admirable. Of the 100 plants featured, here are a few that I have added to my wish list:- Red Helenium Rubinzwerg, Orange Helenium Wauldtraut, Yellow Helianthus Lemon Queen, Pulmonaria Blue Ensign, Purple Veronicastrum virginicum Apollo, Pink Sanguisorbia obtuse, Purple papaver orientale Patty’s Plum, and White Actaea matsumurae White Pearl. I am indebted to the author not only for introducing me to some new varieties of plants but also for reminding me about some forgotten old favorites.

Since a garden book is only as good as the collaborating photographer, it is a delight to discover Clive Nichols’ exquisite close-up photos of the 100 flowers. Selecting Mr. Nichols was one of three wise decisions made by the publisher. Another was to have asked Mr. Fischer to write the book, in the first place. Moreover, the best decision of all was to market this book at a price so attractive that it makes an excellent party favor, get- well present, or Christmas gift. If I were hosting dinner, I prefer that a guest bring this book rather than a box of chocolates. If I were a bedridden gardener, I hope someone would send me this attractive publication to cheer me up. When Tom Fischer first sat down to write this book, I’ll bet he never imagined he would be creating the ultimate hospitality gift.



50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants: Book Review for











50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants                      Tracy Disabato-Aust, Timber Press

Easy care plants that require little or no maintenance are favorites of mine.

Like many other people, time is a rare commodity for me and I must manage it wisely, even in my own garden. Every now and then I focus on a perennial that I have been growing for many years. I marvel how easy it is to care for and how well it blooms, even when neglected. Perennial gardeners wish that all of their plants would behave like that. Nature, however, only cooperates with us to a limited extent. It requires research to learn about such plants and it is reassuring to discover that some garden writers are doing that work for us.

With the publication of this book, Tracy Disabato-Aust has given us a gift. For the novice gardener, the author supplies a list of plants that will help create an eye-catching low-maintenance garden. The seasoned gardener, on the other hand, may discover several plants previously ignored but still worthy of consideration. The reader should bear in mind that the plant list comes with the usual restrictions based on the amount of sunlight and humidity available in ones garden as well as recommended hardiness zones.

According to the author, and we gardeners are all in agreement, a plant must exhibit the following five characteristics to be considered high impact:-

  • Multi seasonal interest
  • Colorful foliage
  • Long lasting bloom
  • Outstanding texture
  • Architectural form

In addition, there are 12 traits that the author looks for in evaluating low-maintenance plants. Each of the 50 mentioned in this book demonstrate at least 10 out of the 12 traits:

  • Long lived
  • Tolerance for heat and humidity
  • Cold hardy
  • Deer resistant
  • Insect and disease resistant
  • Minimal or no deadheading
  • Thrives without heavy fertilization
  • Requires no staking
  • Infrequent or no division required for four years or more
  • Infrequent or no pruning required to maintain neat appearance or best  flowering
  • Non-invasive
  • Drought tolerant

This is a very welcome publication because the topic contributes to the dialogue on sustainable gardening. There is a movement in the landscape community to try and develop gardens that require very little resources such as water or fertilizer and that require almost no maintenance to keep them alive. The list of plants in this publication addresses these issues admirably.

Another welcome trait of this book is the opportunity offered to the reader to discover important plants that might have been overlooked. This reviewer was delighted to learn about a cultivar of a perennial that is hardly known in the gardening community. It is called Thalictrum Erin. I have always been a Thalictrum fan and I grow a lot of it in my garden. But I have never seen anything quite like this one. It is the tallest of all Thalictrum, growing up to 96 inches in height without staking and yet never exceeding 36 inches in width. My “eureka” moment occurred as soon as I found this information in the book. Now, I need to find this plant for my garden.

In order to understand how Ms, Disabato-Aust compiled the list of 50 plants; it is helpful to study her style of landscaping. Hers are exquisitely designed gardens that are not just flower beds but are, instead, foliage and textural compositions that include shrubs, trees and perennials. All of the plants used in the author's work are chosen for the synergistic effect they have on the viewer when used in combination with other plants. The reader should feel confident that, by including a selection from the list of 50 plants, it is possible to create an attractive garden.

Tracy Disabato-Aust has earned international acclaim as one of America’s most entertaining and knowledgeable garden writers and professional speakers. This book is just one of her many accomplishments.


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