Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses



Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses
by Adrian Bloom


208 pages
Timber Press, April 2010
List price: $34.95





No doubt you've heard of Blooms of Bressingham® plants, and perhaps you have a few of them growing in your garden.  Now hear what Adrian Bloom, former owner of the business, has to say about perennials and grasses.

First of all, I liked this book because it has pictures.  Yes, I can be swayed to choose a book that has fine photography, which Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses certainly has.  Adrian and Richard Bloom are both responsible for the array of stunning images which had me wanting one of everything in the book...maybe three. (It's a rule, you know.)

But in Chapter 3 - "Take Twelve Plants: A Key to Successful Gardening" - Bloom suggests starting with a mere 12 plants.

"Reducing the focus to twelve tried-and-true plants allows us to study and learn about a small group, each capable of creating drama in almost any garden, especially when enhanced by clever plant combination and good design."

And then he goes on to give examples of their use, both in this chapter and throughout the book, as he introduces a total of nearly 400 perennials and grasses to the gardener.  And that's the second great thing about Bloom's Best.  It's full of practical information that doesn't leave you hanging, not knowing what to do with it.

As a wrap-up, there are several tables and appendices,  with such information as sources, plants for special purposes, and and of course, an index. While it looks at first like a coffee table book, Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses is much more.  It's a practical guide to design for beautiful perennial gardens.


Adrian Bloom is a lifelong gardener and past owner of the world-renowned Blooms of Bressingham nursery.  Now he manages Foggy Bottom and other gardens at Bressingham in Norfolk, England, and writes, photographs and lectures about plants and gardening internationally.

He has been a television presenter on shows including BBC Gardeners' World and The Victory Garden for WGBH in the United States.  In 1986 he was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society and in 2002 the George Robert White Medal of Honor from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

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The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

Carrots Love Tomatoes



Carrots Love Tomatoes
by Louise Riotte


224 pages
Storey Publishing, 1998, 2nd ed.
List Price: $14.95





I wish I'd thought to consult this book before I planted my peas next to my garlic last spring. The peas were well on their way to climbing up the trellis I'd made for them - right next to the hard neck garlic - when Mom came for a visit and questioned my planting decision.  It was only then that I remembered I owned Carrots Love Tomatoes and that it might have something to say about this.

"Peas grow well with carrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans, and potatoes, as well as many aromatic herbs. They do not grow well with onions, garlic, and gladiolus." (p. 22)

"All alliums, however, inhibit the growth of peas and beans."  (p. 39)

No gardener should be without this book.  Not only does it advise you what you should and shouldn't plant together, it has numerous organic remedies for common gardening problems.  Did you know you can make a garden spray of tomato leaves to help control black spot on roses?


There are hundreds of tips and trivial facts that make this book not only practical, but fun to read.  First published in 1975, this is the second edition, updated in 1998.



Louise Riotte (1909-1998) was one of North America's most beloved gardeners.  Her warm, witty writings on companion planting and gardening lore are American folk wisdom at its finest.  Riotte wrote 12 books in her lifetime, including Roses Love Garlic, Astrological Gardening, and Sleeping with a Sunflower, and many articles.  She lived on a small farm in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

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This book was purchased by the reviewer.

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces



Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces
by Gayla Trail

208 pages
Clarkson Potter, 2010
List Price: $19.99







Gayla Trail has made quite a name for herself in the gardening world as the "You Grow Girl."  In fact, that's the name of her first book: You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening. Don't try to make excuses for not being able to grow your own food, because Gayla's not buying it.  She gardens from a rooftop, after all.

In Grow Great Grub, practical gardening is laid out in simple terms, with the focus on doing it as efficiently as possible in places where space comes at a premium.  Sometimes that means growing it in a box; sometimes it means thinking outside of it.

First, Trail provides general growing information, then she gets specific to each fruit and vegetable, even suggesting at times which variety to grow.  (I am now on the hunt for 'Mexican Sour Gherkin' cucumbers.) There are tips for growing in a compact space, accompanied by recipes and methods for preserving them for eating long after gardening season is over.

Trail has talent as a photographer as well, with plenty of her own delicious photographs to illustrate the text, along with those of Davin Risk.


Gayla Trail is the creator of the acclaimed top gardening website yougrowgirl.com. Her work as a writer and photographer has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Newsweek, Budget Living, and ReadyMade. She is a  resident of Toronto who has grown a garden on her rooftop for more than 10 years.


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The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

The Nonstop Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide to Smart Plant Choices and Four-Season Designs


The Nonstop Garden: A Step-by-Step Guide to Smart Plant Choices and Four-Season Designs
by Stephanie Cohen & Jennifer Benner


248 pages
Timber Press, May 2010
List Price:  $19.95






Just when you think the wheel couldn't be invented yet another time, someone manages to do it. Garden design books are plentiful and while many are good, few excel.  The Nonstop Garden excels.

This how-to book is comprehensive, taking the gardener through each step of creating a garden anyone would be proud to own, without the garden owning them. And it does it in a way that the novice gardener will find easy to follow, without being condescending to the veteran who may need a little design help.

The authors use their collective knowledge to help gardeners create gardens they'll be able to maintain and enjoy all year round. In fact, there are 10 diverse garden plans for those who need a recipe.

The book is divided into four parts:
  • The Nuts and Bolts
  • The Main Attractions
  • The Supporting Cast
  • Finishing Touches

Other basic information is included in the various tables and resources in the back of the book such as Peak Performance at a Glance, Invasive Plants, Glossary, and others. The entire book is lavishly filled with stunning photography that is inspiring as it illustrates the principles of design.

As a gardener who knows her plants but sometimes needs help in putting them all together, I'm thankful for The Nonstop Gardener.  You will be, too.



Stephanie Cohen  is a columnist for Fine Gardening and taught herbaceous plants and perennial design at Temple University for more than twenty years.  Her earlier book, The Perennial Gardener's Design Primer, won a 2006 Silver Award from the Garden Writers Association.





Jennifer Benner has worked in nursery production, garden design, installation, and management.  A former associate editor of Fine Gardening, she is currently a freelance writer, photographer, and horticultural consultant.







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The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.

The New Terrarium: Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature


The New Terrarium: Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature
by Tovah Martin

176 pages
Clarkson Potter, 2009
List price: $25.00






I remember my first terrarium.  It was 1975 and terrariums were popular. So was macrame. Both fell out of favor for a time, but terrariums are back and how!

These are not your mother's terrariums.

In The New Terrarium, Martin presents all sorts of ingenious ideas for creating terrariums of various sizes and her choice of containers is so varied that there's sure to be one that will fit perfectly with your decor. You may even have an appropriate container in your home already.

The photography, by Kindra Clineff,  supports the text beautifully, making the steps to be taken easy to follow.  None of the projects is difficult or time-consuming, but each creates impact in an understated way.

All the basics are here, with guidelines for containers, plants, and design. Part of the beauty of terrariums is their minimal care, and Martin's book is a classic show-and-tell.


TOVAH MARTIN is one of this country’s best-known garden writers and lecturers. She is the author of Tasha Tudor’s Garden, Tasha Tudor’s Heirloom Crafts, Garden Whimsy, A Time to Blossom, Heirloom Flowers, and View from a Sketchbook. A guest and contributor to the PBS television series Cultivating Life, she is also a contributor to Country Home, La Vie Claire, Nature’s Garden, Country Gardens, Garden Design, and Horticulture as well as many other publications. She lives in Roxbury, Connecticut.

KINDRA CLINEFF specializes in editorial, lifestyle, and travel photography. She regularly produces feature assignments for Nature’s Garden, Country Living, Coastal Living, and Yankee Magazine, and her images have appeared in numerous books and calendars. She lives in Topsfield, Massachusetts.





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The publication being reviewed in this blog post was the sole compensation for reviewing the product. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like it, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that, too.