The Red Garden

Elvin McDonald, Author, Elvin McDonald, Photographer
Elvin McDonald, Author, Elvin McDonald, Photographer Anness Publishing $4.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-00-225075-7
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Sporting arresting covers, a snappy layout with handsome, glossy photographs and a neat conceit, this series of four slender volumes offers considerably less in the way of practical information. McDonald, garden editor of Houston Life, provides beautiful pictures of blooms, foliage and fruits, accompanied by brief sections of text written in an authoritative, somewhat off-putting prose that tends toward hyperbole: ``Roses have set the standard for redness from the beginning of recorded history.'' In each volume, the color range is quite broad, so that Red embraces the ``rose-purple spikes'' of the obedience plant and the yellow-orange brilliance of the Gloriosa daisy, while the silver foliage of dusty miller is included in Blue. Unquestionably pretty to look through-the photos were taken mainly at nurseries and public and private gardens in the U.S., Canada and England-and likely to spark ideas in a gardener's mind, the volumes nevertheless disappoint by scanting such crucial considerations as appropriate planting zones (the flowers featured tend to favor hot climates) and other plant-specific requirements. Each volume includes a packet of containing three or four varieties of color-selected seeds, enough for a 1'35' ``border'' (i.e., two windowboxes). Gardeners seeking an in-depth discussion of color theory, sample garden designs and a plant gallery will need to look farther than this series of gift books. (May)
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