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The Perennial Care Manual: A Plant-by-Plant Guide: What to Do & When to Do It Hardcover – July 15, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The Complete Primer on Caring for Perennials

Your yard is home to a gorgeous perennial garden, carefully designed and lovingly planted. Maintain its health and good looks all season long with Nancy Ondra's comprehensive guide to perennial care.

General advice on planning, planting, watering, mulching, pruning, and propagating gives you all the hardworking information you need to become a knowledgeable and effective perennial gardener. For plant-specific questions, an alphabetical perennial reference puts every answer right at your fingertips. Need to know how to divide your sedum or when to cut back your lavender? It's all in the book's Plant-by-Plant Perennial Guide, drawn from Ondra's personal experience growing each perennial. Thorough instructions on how to care for 125 popular perennials include everything from light and soil requirements to how to prepare your plants for winter.

About the Author

Rob Cardillo has been photographing gardens, plants, and the people who tend them for more than 20 years. A former director of photography at Organic Gardening, he now works for publishers, horticultural suppliers, and landscape designers throughout the United States. Visit him at www.robcardillo.com.



Nancy J. Ondra, author of Container Theme Gardens, is a garden writer and editor as well as the former owner and operator of a small rare-plant nursery. She is the author or co-author of a dozen gardening books, including Foliage (winner of the 2008 Book Award from the American Horticultural Society), The Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer (winner of a 2006 Silver Award from the Garden Writers Association), Five-Plant Gardens, The Perennial Care Manual, Fallscaping, and Grasses. She currently gardens in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and blogs at www.hayefield.com.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (July 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603421513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603421515
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 1.1 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #834,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Carol J. Michel on August 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
This new book on perennials has all the information you need to plant a great perennial garden and care for it. It's like two books in one.

The first part is about caring for a perennial garden and includes information on planting a perennial garden, caring for it, keeping up its appearance and troubleshooting problems. Reading through this, I think even an experienced gardener is likely to pick up some new tricks or be reminded of tips they've forgotten

The second part is a "plant-by-plant" perennial guide listing 125 perennials for the garden. For each perennial there are growing tips and seasonal care information, along with troubleshooting info, when necessary.

Whenever I get a new book on perennials, I always look up information on perennials I know and grow to see what the author says about them. It sort of sets my "trust level" with the information. And that's just what I did when I got a copy of this book.

First I looked up Amsonia, Bluestar. I wanted to see if Ondra included information about its tendency to self-sow itself about the garden and if she would mention the white sap that nearly squirts out of the stems when you cut them, depending on when you cut them back. Check and check, both pieces of info were included.

Then I moved on to Heliopsis, False Sunflower. I hoped she would again warn of aggressive self-sowing and also highlight the variegated variety, Loraine Sunshine. Yes and yes.

Finally, I checked Tradescantia, Spiderwort. I've decided after years of growing it that it just isn't all that nice of a perennial. I was happy to see that she included information that would give one pause before planting it, highlighting some of this plant's faults.
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I have found this book to be a good resource for the care and planting of a fairly wide array of perennials. I appreciate the seasonal care guide for each plant. In addition, the photography is clear enough that you are able to get a good idea of what the plant looks like. In fact, I was able to identify a plant in a neighbor's yard from the book which was very helpful since the neighbor could not remember the name of the plant. I think this book is a good addition to a gardener's library, particularly for the beginning gardener.
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I am a professional horticulturist, garden designer and co-owner of a landscape company in Chicago. Perennials are my specialty. In the past, I would suggest that clients get Tracy DiSabato-Aust's book "The Well Tended Perennial Garden" which provides more in-depth information on caring for a vast array of perennials than Ondra's tome. Now that Ondra has written this perennial care manual, I recommend it for clients over Aust's book. The Aust book is better for the professional or advanced home gardener. Aust uses all of the Latin names for plants which can be overwhelming for new gardeners. She also explains things in a more technical manner which may intimidate the average homeowner, as well. I imagine that "The Well Tended Perennial Garden" has frightened some newbies away from attempting to grow perennials. As a professional, however, Aust is the Goddess of Perennials. I worship at her altar. Her books are invaluable to me and I wish I had her depth of experience and breadth of knowledge!

That said, Ondra's book is ideal for the new gardener. She explains things in clear, "attainable" language and uses common names for plants - while providing the Latin names - which I think is less intimidating for those wanting to learn more about gardening. I recommend this book to all new clients who are interested in caring for their own perennials rather than having my company do it for them.

Thumbs up to Ondra!
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By M. Hay on September 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been a casual gardener up until this last year with more free time to really get my hands dirty. This book is the best manual on when to plant and what to do at the end of the season. None of my other landscaping/gardening books tell you what to do with the plants and how to take care of them. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who gardens. I even bought a copy for my daughter!
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I concur with the other reviewers that this is a book well worth buying and using. One of my "beefs" with buying perennials from nurseries is that there are never any instructions as to how to care for the plants. I know this will sound very basic, but until I read this book I did not realize that it was a good idea to cut back perennials at a specific time before their bloom season. It's not just plant 'em and let 'em go! The pictures are excellent, and the writing style is not only informative but friendly. The Appendix alone is worth the purchase price. My favorite feature is the grid at the back that shows graphically all the perennials by color, time of bloom, etc. It does half the work of planning for you!
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This is the best how-to garden book I've found. It has great pictures, it is well laid out and very easy to use. Too often gardening book are very dense and overwhelming. If you only buy one gardening book this should be it.

Part one is all about how to develop and maintain a garden. I been gardening for years yet learned a lot of practical information I just hadn't thought about. For example: if you are going to plant a group of plants it's better to dig up and prepare the whole bed rather than dig individual holes for each plant because the roots will grow faster and wider. There is great info about planting, dealing with problems, easy ways of propagation and what to do season by season. This book had helped me become a much better gardener.

Part two is about individual plants here too I learn so much that I didn't know like cutting back many plants early in the season will help the plant be stronger and better shaped. I knew about asters and mums but there are so many more plant specific options for optimal performance. There is specific information about what to do season by season, plant by plant and how to propagate and trouble shoot specific challenges.

The other gardening book I recommend, particullarly for those beginning or adding a new garden is the Ever-Blooming Flower Garden by Lee Schneller. That is the best book on garden planning, design and plant selection. It is also helpful for "fixing" poorly designed established gardens.
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