Garden Gear - Gardening Books

Book reviews: Unforbidden fruits

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden and Plant Partners reviewed

Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden by Lee Reich, Timber Press, 308 pages hardcover, $34.95.

Primarily a revised, expanded version of Lee Reich's 1991 classic Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention, this book expounds on the merits of rare and unusual fruit for the home gardener. Far from horticultural anomalies, these hardy plants (many of them North American natives) have unjustly fallen off our radar screens in favour of more commercially viable, modern alternatives.

Nevertheless, delicacies such as pawpaws, jostaberries and jujubes have found an able advocate in Reich. After reading just a few pages, you may well find yourself trying to decide how many maypop vines you can reasonably accommodate. In addition to the 19 varieties described in his original book, the author has added four more: beach plum, lingonberry, che fruit and shipova. Also appearing for the first time are more than 50 colour photographs and an updated (mostly U.S.) source list. Each chapter describes the fruit, its cultivation, propagation, harvest and uses. A mouth-watering read.

Plant Partners by Anna Pavord, DK, 192 pages, hardcover, $29.95.

Horticultural guru Anna Pavord's Plant Partners did what every good book should do: It made me laugh while I learned. It also made me grimace (combining laced pinks (Dianthus spp.) with hare's tail (Lagurus ovatus) and blue columbines); it took my breath away (bright red crocosmia with red daylilies and nasturtiums); and, most of all, it made me think about how plant partnerships can make or break a garden.

Pavord has chosen 60 “Star Plants,” each of which she groups seasonally with two other plant partners. Some of these trios are designed to bloom consecutively, while others flower simultaneously.

Pavord's horticultural expertise is unassailable, although her strong opinions coupled with her predilection for neon colours can lead to combinations that not every gardener will wish to emulate. The real strength of this book lies in encouraging readers to reassess their own planting schemes, coupled with plenty of great suggestions to help them along.

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