Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review - Perennial Companions

Garden Sense photo
It's no mystery why garden blogs are full of photographs.  The next best thing to being in a garden is looking at pictures of them. 

If you're like me and love browsing photos for inspiration, you'll enjoy Perennial Companions: 100 Dazzling Plant Combinations for Every Season, by Tom Fischer.
Perennial Companions: 100 Dazzling Plant Combinations for Every Season

For a small book, it packs a powerful punch.  A plethra of perennial combinations are pictured and identified.  The plants are shown at their peak display and organized by bloom season.  

Abbreviated cultural information is included, which will help steer you in the right direction, but you'll need to check other references for more detailed descriptions of plants that interest you.

Photographers tend to crop pictures tightly for clean composition, which can give deceiving impressions about plants.  Most of the photos in this book do a decent job of depicting the plants as they appear in the landscape, which is what I like to see. 

Perhaps vibrant blooms are a bit much for my mid-winter color starved eyes - two of my favorite featured combinations are all foliage.

A blue-green Hosta (Hosta 'Krossa Regal'), White-variegated Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Alboaurea'), Feather-frond Soft Shield Fern (Polystichum setiferum Plumoso-divisilobum Group) and Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens') is an immediately appealing group.  This stunning color and textural combination would work well in my shady yard, so I'm hoping to give it a try. 

Mop-headed sedge (Carex flagellifera), 'Karley Rose' Oriental Fountain Grass (Pennisetum Orientale 'Karley Rose') and 'Cosmopolitan' Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Cosmopolitan'), is a wonderful composition of repetition in form with striking contrasts in color and texture.

Althouth I don't have photos of the exact varieties, this Fountain Grass and Red Sedge paired with variegated Yucca (which has similar coloring to 'Cosmopolitan' Maidenhair Grass) gives you an idea of the interplay of texture and color in the effective grass pairing described above. 

Several of the combinations were similar to ones I've been considering, which served to support my plans. 

If you're looking for photos to jump start your creative juices, Perennial Companions: 100 Dazzling Plant Combinations for Every Season offers a nice selection.


Anonymous said...

Dear Chris, I must confess that green and white are generally colourful enough for me,but it is always fun to see new and exciting combinations. I have seen this book reviewed elsewhere too and it does seem to receive a good press. Anything that helpfully guides one through the myriad of perennials to choose from in the garden is well worth buying I am sure.

Anonymous said...

I agree and it is a book I am familiar with.

debsgarden said...

I love the hosta combination you described. I think it would work well for me, too. I do love a good garden book. I have way too many, but I find I always can use another. This one sounds like it would be a fine addition to my library.

Ramona said...

That sounds like a great book, Chris. Perennial combinations are always great to have since they come back the each year. I'm such a visual person, so I love lots and lots of pictures in books!

The Whimsical Gardener said...

Sounds like a good source for inspiration. I feel the same way about your blog so would like to nominate you for the stylish blogger award! If you're not inclined, no worries - just wanted to let you know how much your blog is enjoyed!

Darla said...

I agree, a lot of the photos are a bit misleading..I love to see the 'real' photo of a plant in the garden. Nice review.

Donna said...

I buy these books and love them but can never stick to a plan...good for you though and I look forward to seeing your wonderful combinations...

Chris said...

Edith: I've come to appreciate the role white plays in the garden more and more, and agree that with good design all white gardens can be stunning.
orchardparkway: I'm so glad you visited and appreciate your sentiment!
Deb: It's easy to collect garden books - they're so appealing and inspiring!
Ramona: I think gardeners, by nature, tend to be visual. After all, our art is primarily a visual one!
Cat: Wow! Thank you for including me on your stylish blogger list - I count it a great honor and appreciate your encouragement!
Darla: I'm with you, and try to use photos that are honest representations of plants since that's what I'm looking for myself.
Donna: Plans are great and get us moving in the right direction, but a bit of improvisation is always fun, too.

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