Garden Books

Perfect Plant, Perfect Place

Each gardening season, I regularly wander in local plant nurseries. I first purchase flats of familiar impatiens and begonias and several pots of geraniums. After these colorful garden staples are placed in conspicuous locations,I return to garden shops to fill those spots where I have problems finding “the perfect plant.” Usually I stroll among the tables until something catches my attention with its unique color, shape or leaf structure. Then I plop it into my basket, return home and hope for the best as I place it in a window or dig a generous hole in my garden. This year I resolved to select only eye-catching plants whose growing requirement will match its placement.

Perfect Plant, Perfect Place (DK Publishing) is a book that provides the advice I need for my new resolve. It offers suggested outdoor and indoor plants for any type of location.   In the Outdoor Plant section, perennials, shrubs, conifers, vines, and trees for all soil types, light availability, size, locations and color are presented page by page. Each plant has its scientific name, common name, light level, hardiness zones, PH level if acidic, and size indicated beside its photograph.

One of the handiest features of the book is the Plant Finder introduction. This small section provides the pages on which to look for a “perfect plant” for a specific site, condition or decorative effect. As examples, page numbers for low allergy perennials or plants for crevices between paving give a gardener advice for the listed needs without looking through the entire book.

Although the first part of the book was informative, the houseplant section was most interesting to me. It introduced me to various plants I would have never considered and instructed me on how to better care for the ones I already possess. This portion of the book begins by explaining that most inside plants are from tropical, semi-desert or Mediterranean climates, and they require a semblance of these conditions to remain healthy. With each recommended plant, he provides the requirements of light, temperature and humidity, fertilizing, watering, and propagation.

The author, Roy Lancaster, is a respected British gardener who has been a member of the Royal Horticulture Society for 40 years and has received many awards from this organization. His world travels searching for gardening information are reflected in the varieties of plants he recommends. This book is correctly described by the author as “a guide for selecting the best plants for given conditions and ornamental effects. It will assist beginners in finding the best plants for their gardens and will remind more seasoned gardeners of excellent contenders they may have overlooked.”

Christine Thomson is a Raleigh gardener obsessed with plants.  She is a volunteer at the Raulston Arboretum and fills her spare time reading books, especially volumes about vegetation.

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