This Week's Podcast — A Rebroadcast: The Updated Essential Reference on Perennials
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Alert: Ken's new book The New Shade Garden has been published and is available for purchase!
About 25 years ago, Ruth Rogers Clausen and the late Nicolas H. Ekstrom came out with Perennials for American Gardens. It was the first book of its kind and became enormously popular. People clamored for an update that would include scores of perennials that have come on the market in the subsequent years. Finally, Clausen and her new co-author Thomas Christopher have answered the call with the all new book, Essential Perennials, with photographs by the husband and wife team of Alan and Linda Detrick. Tom is a graduate of the New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture and has worked for almost forty years creating gardens for clients.
Back in 1989, Perennials for American Gardens introduced us to the ingredients needed to create flower gardens inspired by the craze for English plantings, and it was arguably Northeast centric. This new book addresses all of America and comprises to 2700 species, varieties and hybrids.
The book also tells us a lot about cultivating these plants. Each entry begins with plant attributes: foliage characteristics, flower color, season of bloom, height and width, light requirements, cold hardiness and sometimes, heat tolerance.
The reference book is update – many plants have had their names changed in recent time – like the asters – and former names and synonyms are also included along with common names. I found common names for plants that I’ve never even heard before. In some case, like one of my favorites, Acanthus hungaricus, I never even thought the plant had a common name (allegedly “Balkan bear’s breech”). One reason to know the actual, scientific name is so you can find the plant to buy. (Essential Perennials claims that there is a source for every plant listed.)