Time-Tested Plants: Thirty Years in a Four-Season Garden

Pamela J. Harper, Author Timber Press (OR) $39.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-88192-486-2
Harper (Perennials: How to Select, Grow and Enjoy) describes the evolution of her garden, with all its accompanying successes and failures. Although her early plant experiences were in her native England, Harper concentrates on the two sandy acres in Virginia that, over 30 years, she has transformed into a spot of paradise amid suburban sprawl. Using a seasonal approach, she leads readers on a detailed, informative tour of her gardens, beginning with the emerging colors of early spring. Explanations of plant care are enlivened by Harper's sprightly prose, which speaks of ""flowers held below leaves pricked up like rabbit ears"" or a tulip tree that ""goes into winter laden with thousands of furry buds, like lambs heading for March's late-frost slaughterhouse."" Harper describes each plant and its companions with the affection of a proud parent but also says that she has learned to discard anything that is persistently unhealthy or unsightly. In addition, she focuses on using plants that don't require chemical disease or insect control. Her admission of failed attempts to force plants to grow in unsuitable habitats should resonate with every gardener. No advocate of formal manicured gardening styles, Harper admits to just ""playing"" in this paradise she's created, but her sumptuous photographs, which burst with heat and humidity or winter's chill, reveal how successful her ""playing"" has been. A helpful list of nursery sources for many of the plants in Harper's landscape completes the book. 250 color photos, 2 color maps. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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Paperback - 351 pages - 978-0-88192-746-7
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