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What Grows Here?: Locations    by Jim Hole order for
What Grows Here?
by Jim Hole
Order:  USA  Can
Lone Pine, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've been looking at a lot of gardening books lately, while planting perennials in a smallish courtyard garden, and have found most lacking in either information, organization or in illustrations. What Grows Here? Volume 1: Locations is the first in a series of guides intended to address the title question, and it meets that objective well.

My first impression was one of delight at the over 400 color photographs - so important when choosing what to plant. The author, a 'professional grower' advises us to ask 'What conditions limit my choices?' as well as 'What grows here?' He also recommends knowing what sort of a gardener you are (do you want low-maintenance or is gardening a big part of your lifestyle?), being flexible and responding to change. He tells us that 'the key to successful gardening is putting the right plant in the right place' and that success involves 'one-tenth inspiration, four-tenths perspiration and five-tenths preparation.'

An Introduction covers the top ten considerations for deciding what to plant in a particular spot: soil composition and pH, light, moisture, zones (check ratings but also consider 'microclimates'), wind exposure, elevation, available space, area use, and evolution. A section on basic techniques explains how to get new plants off to a good start. The majority of the guide (11 chapters) covers common landscaping challenges and recommendations for those situations ... 'Around the House' (downspouts, foundations, windows etc.); 'Getting There' (paths and patios); 'Nasty Necessities' (garages and utilities); 'A Private Paradise' (screens); 'Marking Your Territory' (hedges and fences); 'On the Small and Narrow'; 'Wide-open Spaces'; 'Specifically Speaking' (e.g., slopes or shady areas); 'Art in the Garden'; 'Sharing the Garden' (with neighbours, kids, wildlife); and 'A Little Architecture'.

These chapters explain the challenges of each area, and then address a set of specific related questions (highlit via color and font for easy reference) - e.g. what to plant in a sunny area that's kept moist by downspouts, how to screen from a school field, what to do in a 'No Plant's Land', how to complement a boulder with greenery, or to soften the look of a play structure. Specific plants are recommended, with color pictures that make it easy to make a choice. Detail is provided on blooming seasons, height and width, weather tolerances, and sun and soil preferences (though I would have also found zone ranges useful for individual plants). I recognized many pictures and names of what I have planted recently or in the past, and was inspired with useful ideas for tricky spots, and for a planned rock garden.

What Grows Here? Volume 1: Locations is an excellent and practical reference for small or large scale landscaping, and I expect to make good use of it this summer.

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