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The RHS New Encyclopaedia of Plants & Flowers (3rd Edition). Editor:Christopher Brickell Publishers:Dorling Kindersley. ISBN: 0751308005. RRP: £30, however you might be able to get it much cheaper if you look around (I got it for £8.99 from a Christian book shop of all places!). I've got the hardcover version, which is a hefty thing but it is 744 pages of what gardener's dreams are made of! This encyclopaedia is the dog's ********! If you only invest in one gardening book then this SHOULD be it. It is so well presented, and clearly written that it is suitable for absolute beginners as well as the more green-fingered amongst us. The best thing about this book is that it divides plants into colour-coded sections such as categories (trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, annuals & biannuals), heights/size, colour and positioning (Dark & moist, full sun, etc). This is invaluable if part of your garden is in full-shade almost all day(for those of us not blessed with a south-facing garden!)because it shows you such a wide variety of plants that are suited to such conditions, and the height/size guide helps you plan the position of your plants in your borders. The colour-coded edging helps you quickly locate what you are looking for. The other bonus of this book is the wonderful colour photos of the plants. If you're like me and infatuated by certain plants then you'll love this book as it gives you loads of different pictures of types of plants such as orchids, peonies, clematis, lillies, etc., unlike some books that give you two poxy pictures at most! There is also a Plant Dictionary at the back of the book which gives descriptions, common names and information on growing and looking after over 8,000 plants. Finally, there is a list of plants that have been given the award of garden merit (one of the highest accolades the RHS gives to a plant after it has satisfied
a group of RHS judges over a period of time, and chosen for it's looks, ease of growing, availability in the trade amongst other things). And finally, for those of you interested, the editor in chief of this book,Christopher Brickell, was Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society (1985-1993), and is now Chairman of the International Commission for the Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants.
I know this book seems to be expensive at first, but if you can find it on special offer anywhere, then BUY IT. The pages are colourful and well written, and plants and flowers are listed by type, colour and basic size: For example - 'Shrubs/Purple - Red/ Large This is exactly the way I shop for plants - I know what I would like it to look like, but don't necessarily know the names. A refreshing change from the usual list of plants in horticultural name order. Chances are, if you know the name, you'll generally have some idea of what it looks like. There is still a very useful index of common names, plus an index of latin names. As in my title - if its pouring with rain, and you wish you were out in the garden, just pick up the book and start to plan... the garden centre will love you. Happy Reading
The Royal Horticultural Society Gardeners' Encyclopedia of plants and flowers is an excellent book for both new and experienced gardeners. It is crammed with photographs, and an easy to follow way of displaying different groups of plants. Each plant has a description, and a simple guide tells you how hardy a plant is, how muich light it requires, how big it will grow etc. Needless to say, it is a must for all the plantaholics out there. A great book to take in the car (much too heavy to slip into a handbag), when visiting a garden centre. Saves you spending on plants that will not overwinter etc. I would give this book 10 out of 10.