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Plants with Style: A Plantsman's Choices for a Vibrant, 21st-Century Garden Paperback – December 30, 2015
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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“A love letter to plants. . . . oozes enthusiasm.” —The English Garden
“The book is both stylish and a well-organized manifesto full of wisdom. . . . brims with compelling plant ideas and recommendations along with beautiful photos.” —Garden Rant
“Plants with Style is Kelly Norris’s paean to ecology-conscious, biodiversity-rich gardening with panache. . . . Norris is an engaging and erudite author, and Plants With Style is a richly inspiring addition to the gardener’s bookshelf.” —The American Gardener
“This is a book to buy for the text. . . . [Norris comments on] the plants’ flair, sassiness, kick-ass-garden qualities, and other inside information in his astute personal, and conversational style.” —Country Gardens
“Start the new year with no-fuss plants to refresh your garden this growing season. Along with inspirational photos and guidance in each chapter, plantsman and author Kelly Norris will explain how to incorporate your personal style into your own garden.” —Garden Gate
“Norris guides us away from boring plants and directly to vibrant, jaw-dropping, stylish plants. It’s 2016, bring your garden into the 21st century!” —Garden Design
“Kelly is a fresh-faced young man with an unparalleled depth of plant knowledge who exudes a contagious love of the green industry.” —Green Profit Magazine
“What makes the book so engaging is the author’s sense of humor as he explains what he loves and despises, too. It’s done in such a way that you’ll smile all the way through while learning precious information about varieties that, without Norris, would remain a mystery.” —Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“Shares advice on design and tips on growing, but the best part is Norris’ unbridled enthusiasm.” —The Columbus Dispatch
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Norris is a well-informed and enthusiastic gardener, and his new book reflects his extensive experience (even though he is a gardener only in his late 20s) as well as his boundless enthusiasm for plants and garden design. “Plants with Style” reads like an informal garden tour with a fervent young plant geek (he refers to himself as such), urging us to try our luck with the numerous new and unusual plants that he has run across in his career as a gardener and in his visits to numerous gardens of other plant enthusiasts. (Note: One of Norris’ goals is to make gardening more appealing to younger people, and sometimes his language can be conspicuously trendy, although he does tone down the hip-speak by the middle of the book).
“Plants with Style” is divided into five chapters: The first emphasizes planting what grows well in your own region – always good advice. The second covers trees, shrubs and structural plants that Norris believes should be more widely planted. Chapter Three mentions less well-known varieties of “emblem plants”: tulips in April, peonies and iris in May, etc., without which a garden misses the glories of the seasons. The fourth chapter covers the attributes that make garden vignettes successful: color, contrast and texture, and shows examples of interesting plants and combinations with these characteristics. And the final chapter discusses unusual plants that can add quirky interest to a garden.
In every chapter, I was pleased to learn about plants or varieties that were unknown to me, and I hope to be able to find some of them as they become more widely distributed – it’s books like this (and magazine articles) that are responsible for generating enough interest in newer plants for garden centers to start carrying them.
Photos are included for most of the plants he mentions, and although I would like to have seen more garden composition photos in the chapter about garden vignettes, the book is about specific recommended plants, not overall garden design, and the plant close-ups are sufficient.
It would have been useful if there had been an appendix with a chart listing the recommended plants, their size, growing conditions, hardiness, etc.
And on the topic of hardiness: One quibble I have is that Norris seems to be trying to appeal to gardeners in all regions of the United States (if such a book of planting recommendations is even possible), even though his own planting experience is limited to what will grow in Iowa. I understand that most garden writers have tried and failed to grow certain plants and still mention them in their books, based on others’ success, but it was still disappointing to me that some of the plants he mentions won’t grow here in the hardiness Zone 5 we share in common. Aren’t there already enough books about what will grow in Oregon? Norris should stick with his strengths and concentrate on what will grow in his own region – just as he advises us in Chapter 1.
But overall I found the book to be useful and full of fresh and exciting ideas – I’m inspired to try some new plants in my garden. I recommend “Planting with Style” to other gardeners who are interested in learning about lesser-known plants, particularly for gardeners in the colder zones of the Midwest and Northeast.
(Note: Timber Press provided me a copy of this book in return for my honest review.)