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Herbaceous Perennial Plants: A Treatise on Their Identification, Culture, and Garden Attributes 2nd Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0875638102
ISBN-10: 0875638104
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Allan Armitage has a well-deserved reputation for serving up solid information with precision and humor. Now based in Georgia, Armitage began his gardening career in Montreal. Thus, he knows a lot about what happens to plants in both Northern and Southern gardens. He shares his experience and experiments with great good will, offering a depth and breadth of information that is rarely surpassed. Armitage's take on hundreds of hardy perennials includes cultural specifics, propagation techniques, and suggested companions. This chunky book may seem intimidating, but don't let the textbook look put you off--all the information, technical or otherwise, is presented in clear, accessible terms that won't puzzle beginners yet offer advanced gardeners the answers they are seeking. On the whole, Armitage avoids trendy tender perennials such as Meconopsis (the blue Himalayan poppy) that don't perform well for most North American gardeners. His focus is on solidly hardy plants, those that thrive in USDA zones 3 to 8. He does, however, include a few newly popular plants such as Gunnera, the enormous Chilean foliage plants, and there are lengthy sections for hellebores, heucheras, and other horticulturally hot plants, mentioning and rating many of the newest named selections. --Ann Lovejoy --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Armitage's wonderful, lively descriptions of both ordinary and rare perennials more than offset the limited number of photos and illustrations. A perfect companion to The Random House Book of Perennials (see below). For large public and horticultural libraries.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1141 pages
  • Publisher: Stipes Publishing; 2 edition (June 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875638104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875638102
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,800,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By John Boggan on December 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Allan Armitage knows his plants. That's what I've always heard, and this book amply demonstrates it. This book covers just about every garden perennial grown in North America, including many that most of us would consider annuals or at best tender perennials (e.g., cannas). Armitage isn't afraid to tell his opinion of any plant, straightforwardly telling the reader that that's exactly what he's doing--something I especially appreciate as gardening is such an individual and idiosyncratic activity. Anybody who feigns objectivity with regard to gardening is being disingenuous at best.
There are two major drawbacks with this book. The first, and most forgivable, is the dearth of color photos. There are just a few tucked in the middle of the book, illustrating a small minority of the plants discussed in the text. Color photos are expensive, and given a choice between pretty pictures and informative text, I'm at a point in my gardening life where I'll go with the text. I can always look up the pictures in the other gardening books I have, which often have precious little information to go with them. Unfortunately, this will probably discourage many a casual book browser from buying this book--people want to see the pretty pictures, darn it! But that's not the author's fault, and it's a shame, since this book has so much good information. Unfortunately, the line drawings that stand in for photos of many of the plants are very uneven in quality, and some are worse than no picture at all.
The second major fault, and one that I found very frustrating and far less forgivable given that Armitage is an expert in his field as well as a professional, is the large number of typographical errors, misspellings, and other errors in the book. Did anybody bother to proofread this thing???
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of my absolute favorite references on perennial garden plants. Alan Armitage really gives you a "feel" for each plant, giving you the sense that you know its likes and dislikes before you've even seen one. He includes all the information you need: cultural information including cold and heat hardiness, identification information, and propagation. Much of this is provided in a descriptive format which is very useful because the minor quirks of each plant can be included. I have found his information right on target nearly 100% of the time. Of great value is his experience in a variety of climates. This makes it possible for you to judge accurately how a plant will perform for you. I have the first edition of this book as well. If you are familiar with that edition, this is nearly identical in style and format, but with expanded species and cultivar listings. A few species, such as ironweed, are new. Others, such as trillium, appear to be greatly expanded, with more information on identifying the species and varieties within the genus. Cultivar listings are greatly expanded and have been brought up-to-date. If you already have the first edition, I believe buying the second is well worth it if you are a dedicated gardener or gardening professional--but certainly not a necessity. The sections on lilies and peonies and iris, and other such plants that have their own societies and numerous books all their own, appear to be unexpanded (which is probably wise).
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Format: Paperback
This perennial encyclopedia is written in a wonderfully engaging conversational tell it like it is style that is very entertaining to read. For example, of the Meconopsis poppy he writes "...the Himalayan Blue poppy elicits classic garden emotions of beauty, grandeur, awe and most of all, frustration and failure." But beyond his wicked wit is an absolute wealth of valuable information. My primary interest is in starting perennial flowers from seeds and I have found more good information here in this one book than in all my propagation books combined--I can see it is going to be my perennial "Seed Bible" for years to come. I always feel a little nervous when pulling the trigger (and purchasing) any book at this price--but this one is a gem that is bursting with information, wit and wisdom and I consider it an extraordinary value.
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Format: Paperback
Armitage's book is a well organized, packed full of useful information, and yet simple to use reference which is perfect for the novice gardener, or professional horticulturist. It is well written, and understandable, giving a good idea of the particular merits and disadvantages of various species. Armitage's voice comes through the layers of facts, giving the reader a pleasant meander through the book. I highly recommend this well researched work to any who dabble in the plant world, or make their living through it. In addition, a good companion to this book would be "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants" by Michael A. Dirr. Both references should be on the bookshelves of those who are horticulturally inclined!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is my go to reference for perennial plants. Informative, witty, just a good read for serious gardeners. More information on culture of specific cultivars than any other.

Unfortunately, I'm told that Dr. Armitage has retired from the University of Georgia and is now turning his attention to shrubs, so I suspect we will not see another edition of this book. If you love gardening, get this one while you can.

A Virginia Gardener
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