Book Review: Perennial Gardening “Easy to Follow Guide, Plant once and enjoy your plants, flowers, shrubbery, and vegetables forever” — Susan Hollister

I purchased and read this book for the assignment from Alaska UAF Master Gardening class. It is applicable to my garden where I try to only plant perennials; and hopefully ones that are low maintenance. The book will be a reference for me in the future.

The author covers all types of perennials: vegetables, blooming perennials, grasses, shrubs, bulbs and rhizomes, fruits and berries, and landscaping with perennials. What I liked about the book is the detail description of the plant characteristics, what type of locations they prefer, how to fertilize, and maintain a huge variety of perennial plants.   Many of the plants I knew by name, but definitely did not know how to efficiently start growing them. After reading the book, I could easily look up a potential new perennial and determine where or if it should be happy in my garden.

What I did not like about the book is that it is not specific to Alaska. It tells what temporal zone a species of plants typically enjoys, but doesn’t provide any cold weather subspecies recommendations. Botanical names are not used which is good for my recognition, but bad for finding a specific cultivar. Another thing I wish was included is a picture of the plants. Pictures are easy to look up on the internet, but if the book included them then it could help me identify plants that I see growing successfully in Alaska.

Specific take-aways for my garden include not planting hostas with roses. Hostas are shade tolerant and roses like full sun; leaves are totally different smooth-full-round compared to small and jagged. Roses need to be accessed to prune, and hostas desire to be left alone without soil compaction. I have been trying to get to Canadian variety of roses to grow in my hosta bed. After reading the book, I will probably move the roses in the spring (assuming they survive the winter).

Perennial Gardening by Susan Hollister is a good reference book. I will use it to look up existing and candidate plants for my garden in the future. It covers all the Alaskan main stay perennials but is not Alaska specific. For an Alaskan specific reference, it is hard to beat our text book Sustainable Gardening: The Alaska Master Gardener Manual because it is specific to Alaska and tested.

Barnes & Noble: Perennial Gardening: Easy to Follow Guide: Plant Once and Enjoy Your Plants, Flowers, Shrubbery, and Vegetables Forever – Susan Hollister

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