On books: Gardeners’ Encyclopedia of plants and flowers

Our allotment shop has a bookshelf. With books on it. Really. I was surprised too. Then I realised: all the books are gardening books. Free to take and read and bring it back. Our own little allotment related library. You have a question about designing your garden? There is a book for it. About how to grow sweet peas? There is a leaflet. About how to manage slugs? Now, there is a real funny one for that. Want to do something about your plot doesn’t have any plant on it during winter? There is guide of cover crops.

So I got excited and I picked one up.

Gardeners’ Encyclopedia of plants and flowers
The Royal Horticultural Society
Editor-in-chief: Christopher Brickell
1989, Dorling Kindersley Limited, London (First Edition)
ISBN 0-7513-014-77

I needed some clarity on what I should do with my back garden. This book helps to pull together the different aspects you need to consider when you are designing your garden:

  • soil type (sand, clay, chalk, limestone, acidity)
  • available water and sun (dry or moist, shade or sun)
  • smell (aromatic foliage, fragrant flowers)
  • function (hedge, wind break, wall protection, quick cover, cutting, drying, architectural)
  • style, colour, texture and pattern

There are four main sections in the book which are cross referenced.

  • The planter’s guide (which is broken down to group of lists of the above categories – for example plants for dry shade)
  • The plant catalogue, which is a photographic collection of plants organised by size and colour, with basic description and symbols indicating preferred growing condition and hardiness.
  • The Award of Garden Merit, which is a list of plants helping the ordinary gardener in making a choice.
  • The Plant Dictionary, which covers over 4000 entries, has the broader description and characteristics of the plants; functions as the index to the catalogue.

Whenever I pick up this book I find myself lost in it. I lose time. My imagination gets very active and I mix and match plants to accommodate birds, frogs, fairies and hedgehogs. And water features with Japanese style bridges. I can see cottage gardens with plenty of lavender and lemon balm. Moss gardens and ferns. Bamboo and grass privacy fences. Roses, dalias, irises, peonies, chrysanthemums and gladioli. Then I come back to reality…

Anyway. The book is great.

Here are a few links where you can find the fifth edition:

RHS Books & Gifts

DK

Amazon

Waterstones

WHSmith

Book Depository

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