The Garden Color Book: 343,000 Combinations For Your Garden,
by Paul Williams; Chronicle Books;
softcover; 176 pages;
Colour combinations are always emotional. The thought of changing a colour scheme can throw us into turmoil'we would sooner use the same colours year after year, if only to avoid the crisis of selecting a new palette. But Paul Williams has devised an elaborate system to ease gardeners into trying new ones.
You can tell from the subtitle 343,000 Combinations For Your Garden that math plays a part in the design of this book. The spiral-bound, split-page format divides each page into three strips, with three plant portraits on each strip, a total of nine on each split page. The flip-floppy pages allow readers the opportunity to play out colour fantasies without ever setting trowel to soil. Williams advises readers to be bold and break rules.
The colour photos are clear, and short plant profiles include the hardiness zone, season of bloom and complementary plant partners. The level of preferred soil moisture (well drained, moist or wet) is indicated for each plant'one wishes this were so in more gardening books. Common plant names are omitted in favour of Latin botanical ones, which can be annoying. But it's an interesting book about colour and imagination. If we can dare to dream, we might just move those scarlet poppies closer to the "Blue Wave" hydrangea.