The Master Gardener’s Bookshelf
Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty
by Graham Rice
Derek Fell’s Grow This!: A Garden Expert’s Guide to Choosing the Best Vegetables, Flowers, and Seeds So You’re Never Disappointed Again
by Derek Fell
Review by Elaine Mills, Extension Master Gardener
Two recent additions to the holdings at the Arlington Public Library offer advice from horticulturalists on what they consider to be top-performing plants for the home garden.
In Powerhouse Plants, internationally known plantsman Graham Rice presents 510 ornamental plants which he finds noteworthy for their multi-season beauty. His choices are based on his many years of experience gardening on both sides of the Atlantic in Milford, Pennsylvania, and in Northamptonshire, England. His list of favorites includes a variety of trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and several annuals, each of which offers two or more different features, such as spring flowers, summer fruits, fall foliage color, or winter bark. Plants are organized into an alphabetical series of short chapters by genus, with descriptions of their various features and a list of recommended species and cultivars. Each chapter includes glorious color photographs by the author’s wife, photographer Judy White, and a sidebar with information on siting and maintenance, as well as suggestions on plant pairings.
Derek Fell’s Grow This! presents the recommendations of a former catalog manager of the biggest seed houses in the U. S. and Europe and former executive director of the national seed trials. His suggestions are based on his experiences growing thousands of plant varieties in his gardens in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, (zone 6) and on Sanibel Island, Florida, as well as his visits to display gardens and test plots around the country. In his book, he shares information on more than 600 species of vegetables, annuals, perennials, and lawn grasses, allowing gardeners to make informed choices about what they will plant. Plants are arranged alphabetically by common name in each of the four major plant categories; culinary herbs are covered under “Vegetables” and flowering herbs under “Perennials.” Each short section includes descriptions of the species or cultivars Fell recommends and alerts about choices which do not perform as well. Following each section of text is a plant profile which provides the botanical name, details on growing, pests and diseases to watch for, and suggested plant partners. A large section of color photographs contains pictures of many of the recommended plants.