Book Review: Foliage Gardens

Foliage Gardens:  Instant Reference To More Than 250 Plants, by Richard Bird

While one would not think that foliage would be the most obvious or interesting subject to have a book about, this book manages to be an enjoyable as well as instructive reference material to a wide variety of plants that can be used effectively to provide a base of gardens that are highly dependent on leafy plants.  Even if one wants more than just leafy plants, though, it is pretty obvious that foliage makes for a large part of the bulk of a garden that allows for its year-round beauty, especially given the short flowering season of many annuals and perennials.  And where one can find interesting and colorful leaf patterns on trees and shrubs and other plants, it is pretty clear that having a good understanding of leafy plants is key to having a good garden, not least because they form the bulk of the plants that are in a garden, from trees to hedges to bushes and other leafy plants.  Indeed, my stepfather has a “miniature” schefflera plant that has taken over the entire south side of my parents’ place, which would not be such a problem if I was not allergic to it.

This book is a short one at a bit more than 100 pages, and it is divided into three parts.  After a short introduction and a useful guide in how to use this book, the author begins with a discussion of how to plan one’s garden (I).  This includes a discussion of leaf varieties, colored foliage, the effective use of foliage, planning with foliage plants, as well as suggestions for green oases, a basement garden, and foliage gardening for sunny sights.  After that the second part of the book discusses how to create one’s garden (II), with a discussion of leaf shape, size, and texture as well as how one acquires and increases one’s foliage plants and deals with planting and aftercare as well as using topiary, water, foliage as a foil, using foliage to deaden sound, and foliage for hot and dry spaces, damp soil, and vertical spaces.  After that the third part of the book, which is about half the length of the book overall, contains a detailed directory of plants and how to use the directory to gain some detailed information about a large number of plants included six to a page and divided by the type of foliage plants they happen to be.  After that the book ends with a glossary, index, and acknowledgements.

By and large this book is an enjoyable one.  It has gorgeous drawings that demonstrate how to make a foliage garden of various kinds and it also has plenty of beautiful (if frequently small) photos.  The book is organized in a compact fashion so that people can gain the information they want about particular plants efficiently.  And all of that is definitely something that this book’s readers will definitely appreciate.  This is not the sort of book that would be the only gardening book one would read, but certainly someone who wanted to elevate aspects of their gardening skill in general would find much to appreciate in taking this book and adding to their base of knowledge about gardening some insights in the importance of examining leaf color, shape, size, and texture as part of an overall effort at improving the beauty and durability of their gardens.  And I suspect that quite a few people will be interested in what this book has to say and in improving their own foliage gardens.  And all of that may encourage others to write books like this one and add photos and their own insights, which is all for the better.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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