Gardening Blog

Bookworm: Five-Plant Gardens by Nancy J. Ondra

If you’re a gardening newbie and haven’t a clue where to start, pick up Nancy J. Ondra’s Five Plant Gardens: 52 Ways to Grow a Perennial Garden with Just Five Plants. Gardening expert Ondra provides 52 easy-to-execute garden plans, each using five well-considered plants that grow nicely together.

Why five? Ondra says: “It’s enough variety to give you a good mix of flowers and foliage, heights and shapes, and seasons of interest, but not so much that the collection looks like a jumbled mess.” Sounds pretty foolproof to me! The book includes plans for sun and shade, wet sites and dry ones, super hot areas and sloped spots, as well as schemes to attract butterflies, to add cottage charm, to create a welcoming path and many more.

My favourites include “Stunning in Silver” with silvery blue plants (page 21; Russian sage, ‘Big Blue’ sea holly, ‘Berggarten’ sage, ‘Elijah Blue’ blue fescue and globe thistle), “On the Edge” for a simple garden path (page 72; Rozanne geranium, ‘Bath’s Pink’ dianthus, ‘Caradonna’ ornamental sage, ‘Vera Jameson’ sedum and ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis) and “Pretty Pastels” for a partially shaded garden (page 122; ‘Biokovo’ hardy geranium, ‘Stairway to Heave’ creeping Jacob’s ladder, ‘Camelot Rose’ foxglove, dwarf Chinese astilbe and ‘Etain’ viola).

In addition to planting plans, Ondra also offers shopping lists, planting tips, a seasonal play-by-play and suggestions for adding more plants to your five-plant garden.

A must read! Five-Plant Gardens: 52 Ways to Grow a Perennial Garden with Just Five Plants by Nancy J. Ondra with photography by Rob Cardillo (Storey Books, $24).

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