Thursday, June 6, 2013

Great Canadian Plant Guide by DK Publishing

DK is celebrating spring with its Spring into Gardening promotion. I'm a little late in posting this so if gardening is your thing and you need some gardening books for help, motivation or inspiration, hop on over to DK's website for some great deals on gardening books. Here's my review on one of these awesome books:

The Great Canadian Plant Guide offers information on over 3,000 plants for Canadian gardens and lots of general information to help gardeners achieve great results.

This is a great little book with lots of photos and information on more plants than I knew existed. It not only covers perennials, but also annuals and bedding plants. For each plant, there's a short description of the plant and/or bloom as well as information on cultivation, sun and moisture requirements, hardiness zone and size. All of this information is presented with a photo.

The book starts off with a really good introduction on shopping for plants (how to get the right ones, healthy ones), preparing the soil and planting. Closer to the back of the book, there's a planting guide which features a number of plant lists for various conditions, seasons and garden designs. The lists include: plants for poor soil, plants for spring color (which should be "colour"), plants for clay soil, cool color schemes, plants to attract garden birds, and many more. It even includes lists for containers, baskets, and bulbs.

It's small size, roughly 4.25"x5.25", could be really handy for some gardeners. It's small enough to pop into a purse or tote bag or even just carry around the garden store. However, I found it a bit unwieldy to handle. It's small format made the book almost 2" thick, which made the book an odd shape. I don't even think it would look nice on a bookshelf when not in use. The photographs and type are large enough for me to see clearly, but the plant hardiness zone maps on the end papers are not. If the format was enlarged to 8"x10", it thickness would be cut down, which might make it easier to handle.

The book uses the botanical (or Latin) names for many of the plants. There are references to the common names in some cases, but not enough for my liking. For example, in order to find information on a "plume poppy" that I wanted to purchase, I had to first go to the internet to look up the Latin name, "Macleaya cordata", then look that name up in the book. However, since I had already looked it up on the internet, I just read about it there.

Like many other garden books, this one uses symbols for soil moisture preferences/tolerances, sun/shade preferences/tolerances, and hardiness zones. I marked the legend with a little sticky note so that I could easily reference that page when I forgot what the symbols meant.

The table of contents is extremely short, with only 6 entries, if you count the introduction, index and acknowledgements. That leaves only 3 entries for the meat of the book. I'm not sure it's going to be much help. The index, however, is quite extensive and should help the gardener find what they are looking for.

Recommended, even with its shortcomings.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit DK's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at DK Canada for this review copy.

Great Canadian Plant Guide by DK Publishing, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2012. ISBN 9781553631774(Softcover), 704p.

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