Did you know that colchicum and saffron bulbs bloom in fall? Did you know you can save wood ashes to sprinkle around lilacs to sweeten the soil? Lots of little gems like these can be found in New England Gardener’s Handbook. I recommend this book for all levels of gardeners. I have been gardening professionally for five years and still found new information.
This is NOT a design book. It’s a resource for plant materials and their maintenance especially for our region. I don’t recommend this book for pruning advice. It’s just too general and doesn’t include information on different pruning for different species of plants. Some plants like hydrangeas have two types of pruning groups. If it blooms on new wood you can prune anytime. If it blooms on last year’s wood you must wait until new growth begins to avoid removing flower buds.
Chapters are divided into types of plants, ie annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. Each plant listing includes the common name and Latin name. Icons at the top of each listing provide a quick review if you’re searching for special solutions. Plants for full sun, fall color or waterwise choices for example.
Keep in mind the authors’ advice is for the ideal garden. There’s a lot of maintenance in gardening: fertilizing, pruning, mulching, dividing. In the book, the authors list chores for each month within each type of plant. Please don’t feel you have to do everything to have a garden you will enjoy. I don’t complete every chore every year or I would spend all my time in the yard! If you’re trying to improve an established garden or solve problems, look up the particular plant and check the monthly chore list in that category type. If you’re starting a new garden, I recommend starting with the Welcome to Gardening in New England chapter for a helpful overview.
Once you have your plants list be sure include both common and Latin names when shopping at the nursery. Plants can have multiple common names so be sure you’re purchasing the correct plant.