June 11, 2010

Book Review: Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses

As with many North American gardeners, I am often inspired by English gardens and the only thing more enjoyable than browsing photos is to visit in person.

Bressingham, in particular, is fascinating to me because I grow several perennials that originated at the nursery, have browsed the online garden photos many times, but have never actually toured the gardens.

Adrian Bloom, author of Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses, is a past owner of the world-renowned Blooms of Bressingham® Nursery. He currently manages Foggy Bottom and other gardens at Bressingham in Norfolk, England.

When the book first arrived from Timber Press, I was sure that it was either a "coffee table" photo book or intended for European gardeners. But, the book is a practical one, intended to be used by gardeners in both Europe and North America.

Bloom includes an extensive directory of plants and advice along with garden inspiration that can also be used on this side of the pond. He is quick to add the extra nuggets of insight regarding the growing of the plants in North America and even translates our USDA Hardiness Zones into Equivalent UK Conditions.

The hardcover book is nicely presented with big views of garden designs as well as explanations for problems solved, plant choices and maintenance levels.

As with any garden book, I look for the underlying message that resonates with me. The chapter, Take Twelve Plants: A Key to Successful Gardening, hit the right chord.

Bloom is obviously a hands-on gardener and nurseryman. He grasps the challenges of gardening—whether it is time, skill or the overwhelming number of plant possibilities from which to choose:
Over the years, I have come to understand that in the garden less can often be more...

Reducing the focus to twelve tried-and-tested 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.
The author continues to describe his twelve choices and the versatility of the perennials and grasses in various design vignettes as as well as seasons of the year.

Of the twelve plants, I am actually growing three of the well-known perennials in my garden:

Geranium 'Rozanne'
Crocosmia 'Lucifer'
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii 'Goldsturm'

The book isn't limited to the highlighted twelve plant choices. In fact, there is a directory of over one hundred pages of plants that are among the author's favorite perennials and ornamental grasses.

Bloom realistically puts design inspiration and how-to instructions into context for gardeners. In other words, he provides the reader with real-life examples for designing, creating and maintaining a garden, whether large or small. And—the photos of the English gardens are quite enjoyable, too!

The book in this review was provided by Timber Press. Book jacket image provided by Timber Press. Words by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks/copyrights/patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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