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Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?: 255 Extraordinary Alternatives to Everyday Problem Plants Paperback


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Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?: 255 Extraordinary Alternatives to Everyday Problem Plants + The Unexpected Houseplant: 220 Extraordinary Choices for Every Spot in Your Home
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604692863
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604692860
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Tired of the same-old gardening same-old? Feel like screaming at the sight of one more boring bed of begonias? Frustrated by failures of seemingly fool-proof flowers? In the garden as in life, there is more than one way to pick a pepper. All it takes is a little confidence and a lot of knowledge about the numerous under-used and overlooked trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, and ground covers that stand ready and willing to transform a dull garden into a dramatic showcase. Following seasoned advice on cultural maintenance and design selection, Keys offers pithy profiles of creative alternatives to plants that have become all-too-common elements of landscape design. The yard next door may be dominated by an out-of-place birch; counter its predictability with a London plane tree. Replace that dull privet with showy mountain mahogany. Pull up that pachysandra, and put down some European ginger. Gardeners looking for vibrant inspiration will revel in Keys’ innovative recommendations. --Carol Haggas

Review

"This book will help you solve problems before they start."

(Steve Aitken, Fine Gardening)


"Andrew Keys is the kind of guy you frisk at the gate to make sure he's not carrying a concealed shovel: insatiable, with a boundless love for all things botanical."

(Margaret Roach, awaytogarden.com)


Landscape designer Keys lends helpful guidance for shaking up the standard fare in a garden with exciting alternatives... This is a lively, helpful guide offering needed redress for the tired garden--and gardener.
--Publishers Weekly


“This may be my favourite new book this year.”

(The Chronicle Herald)

"Seriously – this is funny stuff, while at the same time providing lots of creative substitutes that will give your garden more bang for its buck."

(Gossip in the Garden) 

"It's nice to have this as a source book for choosing plants for my garden when I'm tired of pandering to something I already have or I'm ready for a change. Andrew's book can be a help towards gardening smarter, not harder!"

(Our Little Acre)

“The key to Keys is the way he nudges us out of our box, and gets us thinking...this is ‘teach a man to fish’ stuff that will hold its value, no matter which new plant alternatives come along."

(Toronto Gardens Blog)

"This book is best suited to experienced gardeners who need a nudge to try a less common plant, or who are tired of the typical garden standbys and crave something different. Newly transplanted gardeners—a Midwesterner recently relocated to the desert Southwest, for example—will also find it useful as they wrestle with the desire to plant beloved species from a far distant region and begin looking for regionally appropriate substitutes.”

(Digging Garden Blog)

"Written in his hallmark playful, smart, and slightly tongue-in-cheek style, Keys’ book compares some popular garden plants to the cast of characters we all remember from our high school days."

(A Garden of Possibilities)

“Whether you suffer from plant envy, and are looking for regionally appropriate alternatives to grow instead, or you just need a little help climbing out of a plant rut, Andrew’s got you covered.” 

(Susan Morrison, co-author of Gardening Up!)

“You can stop the madness with Keys’ recommendations for plant swaps for every problem place in the garden without sacrificing the design characteristics you seek.” (Star-News)

“There are not enough gardening books around that are as smart, sassy, informative and exuberant as this one.” (About.com/Container Gardening)

“The real enjoyment here is that Keys delivers on his promise to help us upgrade our gardens, make sense of our options and discover some surprisingly marvelous, new plants.” (About.com/Gardening)

“Keys (columnist, Fine Gardening) has written a succinct primer to help beginning gardeners expand garden choices beyond well-known plants.” (Library Journal)

“Gardeners looking for vibrant inspiration will revel in Keys’ innovative recommendations.” (Booklist)

 

“Landscape designer Keys lends helpful guidance for shaking up the standard fare in a garden with exciting alternatives… This is a lively, helpful guide offering needed redress for the tired garden—and gardener.”

(Publishers Weekly)

“In this accessible book, Andrew Keys suggests 255 problem-solving alternatives to plants that, while popular, can be invasive or difficult to cultivate.” (Martha Stewart Living)

“Keys has done a remarkable job in spotlighting less common plants that deserve a place in your garden, wherever you live.” (The American Gardener)

(The Chronicle Herald)

"Whether you are looking for trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, grasses or groundcovers, you will find a way to have what you want. Each page names a popular but problem-causing plant, and a few easier-to-grow ‘Extraordinary Alternative’ plants are described in detail. Plenty of humor and lots of good suggestions will make this a popular choice for new homeowners as well as experienced gardeners."

(Muskogee Phoenix)

"Offers a plant option for just about every spot in the yard and garden."

(Grower Talks Magazine)

“This book offers hundreds of alternatives to shrubs, trees and perennials (including vines and ornamental grasses) that can pose problems without the right conditions or enough time to give extra attention.”

(Garden Gate Magazine)

"Don't give up on growing your dream plants! With 250 suggestions, let this book be your guide to successful substitutes."

(Garden Gate)

“A fun, helpful tool for gardeners looking to expand their plant selections.” 

(The Gardener)

“Don't give up on growing your dream plants! With 250 suggestions, let this book be your guide to successful substitutes."

(Garden Gate)

More About the Author

My name is Andrew Keys. I am here to talk about plants. Descended from Mississippi cotton farmers, I was raised with a reverence for the land passed down generations, and I first fell in love with plants in the woods of my childhood home. Today, I'm fortunate enough to work with plants in some way every day, whether it's planting them or writing about them. I believe every plant has a story, and I created a podcast to give voice to those stories through Fine Gardening Magazine. It's called Garden Confidential. I also give voice to the character of plants themselves in my book, Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?: 255 Extraordinary Alternatives to Everyday Problem Plants.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Gen of North Coast Gardening TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Let's face it: the garden is a popularity contest. High school is a metaphor for life, and gardening is no exception. Step into our gardens and we find the prom queen and the star quarterback, the cheerleader and the rebel who cut class. Popular plants rule today's landscapes the same way popular kids rule the school. But just like kids, plants grow up, and 10 years or two growing seasons later, we wonder, "Why did my homecoming queen, that gorgeous hybrid tea rose I planted, grow into such a mess?" - Andrew Keys

If there's one thing professional landscapers get sick of seeing, it's those over-planted, fussy-natured plants that never perform well, yet for some inexplicable reason are planted in every other landscape we see. The exact varieties vary from region to region, but one thing remains the same: just because a plant is everywhere, doesn't mean you should invite it into your garden.

That's why I'm so in love with the idea behind this clever new book. Keys chooses a variety of overused and problem plants, describes their issues, and suggests a number of planting alternatives that you may not have thought of. He has a wicked sense of humor, so reading this is like hanging out with your catty best friend and having a good old gossip about each of the varieties.

You can get a feel for his style from the introduction:

"Let's be honest.
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Young Family on January 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
Recently bought a house of my own, and received this as a Christmas gift because I'm hoping to gain knowledge before tackling the standard landscaping of the subdivision. I was skeptical, and nervous because I have absolutely no experience gardening or growing anything. I liken it to learning to cook after getting married, except that killing an entire yard of landscaping is much more expensive than burning a few dinners.

This book has greatly softened my fears. I obviously won't know until I try and see how things will go, but I feel much more informed going forward. And the best of all is that just one book in a very UN-intimidating way has increased my confidence significantly. I would recommend this to anyone but especially someone looking to build a foundation of gardening knowledge.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By 1980meg on July 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really liked the concept of this book and so I took the risk and ordered it online. While I do like that it has pictures for all plants mentioned (why don't all gardening books do this?!?), I was disappointed with how many "everyday problem plants" did not have recommendations that were the same zone range. In my mind, if the problem plant can be grown in zone 3, then at least one of the suggested alternatives should also be able to grow in zone 3. It is of no use to me, a zone 3 gardener, if the suggested alternatives cannot be grown in my zone. There are numerous times in which this happens to the point that I felt I had to review it to let others know in case this is a problem for them as well. While I am used to lots of information in books being irrelevant to me and my zone, I don't usually feel like I wasted my money - which I do with this book.

I also felt that this book was light on information as the descriptions for the plants are quite short and little explanation is given about why the plant is better. It sort of feels like he is relying on "because I say so, and I am the expert", as opposed to providing rationale. I also think that the information for each plant should include what kind of soil the plant is able to grow in. I did still give it three stars because I like the range of plants it mentions and it did confirm several selections that I had on my "wish list". I also think it will likely be much more helpful to those in zone 4/5 and up. The pictures are well done.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ed Lamb on February 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a gardener who spends way too much money on perennials only to watch them wither away, so I thought this book sounded great. There are definitely some nice replacement suggestions, don't get me wrong. But as I was reading it, I felt like there were too many "native plants" for my liking. If there's a plant that's growing along highways and roadsides and that I see on a walk through a natural meadow, I don't want it in my garden.

Having said that, there are some non-native plant recommendations that I did like. For example, purple coneflowers are so easy and hardy, but they're in everyone's garden. This book recommends a couple of "new" coneflower types/colors to use instead of the everyday purple ones. The trick is finding them locally. Most likely readers will have to order them online. The author does provide a nice list of nurseries and online nurseries to try, so that's helpful.

The layout of the book is great. There are color pictures for everything and you don't have to read it cover to cover. It's easy to browse through and reference here and there.

All in all, I'm glad I purchased it; it's a good addition to my meager "gardening library". And it will be helpful. I was just hoping for a total gardening epiphany, which didn't happen.
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