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I absolutely adore my garden and will spend many hours tending my plants; many of which I have grown myself from either seeds or bulbs. I feel very proud of the fact that when we moved to our home four years ago our front garden was simply lawn and I have spent a considerable amount of time creating borders and raised areas to create an eye catching mass of colour. The bottom of our rear garden is mainly for vegetables with the area adjacent to our patio consisting of another mass of colour created with shrubs, bushes and flowers of varying heights. I still have a long way to go as I would like to create fuller borders with even more colour, but as this is such a costly exercise and very time-consuming, it will take me a few more years to achieve. A book I purchased whilst living at my last home is The Flower Expert, which I consider to be my flower bible and this review discusses how this book is helping me achieve my dream garden.
The book is approximately A4 sized with a sturdy glossy cover and consists of 256 pages with the paper being of an exceptionally high quality. I own a large amount of this series of books; all of which are written by Dr D G Hessayon, who is an expert in the field of gardenening whether it by shrubs, lawns, vegetables or flowers. We are initially taken to the introduction where we are provided with a little information on the world of gardening and a short explanation on what we can expect from the book. We are then introduced to the range of garden flowers, which would be of great use to those who are new to gardening as the author covers the different types of flowers such as perennials, annuals, bedding plants and bulbs. It is the following section that I gained much of my inspiration where we are provided with coloured images and a short amount of text on different ways of displaying flowers within borders. As I am someone who is interested in interior design, all of the rooms in my home are based upon a focal point and I have also adopted this practice in the garden with the aid of this book.
Chapter 2 covers the A-Z of garden flowers, which covers everything you could possibly think of and more with each flower being accompanied by a coloured image, which greatly assists when trying to identify something you may have seen in someone else's garden. This section of the book has been of valuable use to me, particularly as we are given a full run down of the flower in question together with its full name and information on when it grows, when to plant and how to care for it. I frequently use this book when selecting new flowers for my garden as the information provided in relation to its overall height when fully grown is of great benefit when planning a garden. The author also provides advice on the best type of soil for the flower and whether it is a perennial or annual. I tend to opt for perennials as whilst annuals can be stunning, they leave a huge gap in the borders once they reach the end of their lifetime and are expensive to replace each year.
A point of great use for those people who do not have a garden is that many of the flowers can be planted in window boxes, hanging baskets or tubs and the book identifies the most appropriate for this purpose. One of my favourite perennials, which I have grown in the garden of my last two homes is Astilibem, which thrives in rich soil. I would describe it as a mini pamper grass and whilst they are supposed to flower between the months of June and August, for some reason ours five plants tend to display their glorious colours until late September. This beautiful flower is available in an array of beautiful colours with the ones in my garden being a pale shade of pink, cerise and cream. These are ideal for filling borders and creating a little height as the generally tend to grow to a maximum of approximately 30 cm.
When I initially began planting shrubs and flowers I would randomly place them anywhere and as a result, leaves, stems and petals would overlap one another and my borders would look untidy and unorganised. Consequently, this book has provided me with the valuable advice of knowing what to grow and where and I am able to ensure that my plants are distinguishable as opposed to being a mass of mixed up colours and leaves.
Chapter 3 discusses the best places to buy plants and what to look out for such as wilting leaves and roots growing through the underside of the pot. Chapter 4 provides valuable information and advice on preparing the soil prior to planting and the best tools for the job. This is another section that has been very useful to me, particularly as I would just simply dig without using any specific technique. Whilst it may seem obvious that planting a shrub is straight forward, this isn't quite the case and the author discusses how we should do this whilst avoiding damage to the plant's rooting system. The last section of this chapter discusses issues such as feeding, mulching, watering and weeding; all of which are necessary to achieve maximum results. An area where I had limited experience was dividing my plants and I gained considerable knowledge and am now able to increase my stock at no additional cost. We are provided with a list of bulbs and flowers that bloom all year round although these are not suited to all soil types.
The section on troubles with plants is of great benefit to me, particularly as I am not too familiar with different types of bugs or plant disease. Consequently, this is a section to which I will continually refer throughout the growing season so that I can eradicate any bugs and pests before they ruin my plants. The final section of the book contains the index, which refers to every flower throughout the book. This book has been an absolute saviour to me as it has increased my knowledge of the world of flowers and how to care for them. It has given me considerable inspiration on choosing different varieties for my garden; many of which are flowers that I would previously not have considered or had even heard of. Whilst the book contains the word "Expert" in the title, the contents are aimed at anyone from complete beginners to those who have been gardening for years. It is so satisfying and very therapeutic to plant seeds and watch them grow into something beautiful. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and as a result in receives five stars from me.
Written by Dr D G Hessayon
Published by Transworld Publishers
Available from Amazon at the time of writing at a cost of £6.19 inclusive of P+P
This review will also appear on Ciao under the same user name.