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The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening    edited by Fern Marshall Bradley & Trevor Cole order for
All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening
by Fern Marshall Bradley
Order:  USA  Can
Readers Digest, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This new full-color edition of the old favorite All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening (focused on eleven United States hardiness zones) has been completely revised. A coffee-table sized volume, it includes 2,500 magnificent color photographs that will make you get out your gardening gloves, along with 800 handy step-by-step illustrations (also in color). The plant directory lists over 700 plants, and there is a new focus on eco-friendly gardening, with welcome suggestions of 'organically safe methods' for pest and weed control.

Being on the brink of landscaping a property in the middle of the woods, I was happy to find in opening chapters discussions of Planning Your Garden (including 'methods of encouraging wildlife' and friendly insects); alternatives for Lawns and Ground Covers; and instructions for Perennials - planting, seasonal care, and how to divide them or grow perennials from cuttings and seeds. Preferring a low maintenance environment, I was even happier to read that 'A well-planned garden provides a place to relax and enjoy the flowers with a minimal amount of work once the initial construction and planting has been done.'

Further chapters cover Irises; Peonies; Daylilies; Hostas; Chrysanthemums; Carnations; Ornamental Grasses; Ferns; Bulbs, Corms, and Tubers; Dahlias; Gladioli; Lilies; Rock and Water Gardens; Annuals; Trees; Shrubs and Vines; Hedges; Roses; Rhododendrons and Azaleas; Heathers and Heaths; Fruits; Vegetables; and Herbs. Each chapter introduces the type of plant, its origins and categories, blooming period and height range, and describes which hybrids do best in different conditions. Within these pages are over 200 charts that make planting and care instructions very clear, and there are also important tips on how to control the different things that can go wrong.

The final chapter of this excellent resource addresses Taking Care of Your Garden, from soil quality and composting to plant disorders (I could really have used the color photos showing how to recognize these from what's happening to the leaves in past years), and organic pest and weed control. This is followed by a comprehensive Index that cross-references common and botanical names. I plan to make regular use of my copy of The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening, starting this spring, and highly recommend it as an invaluable resource for the novice and expert gardener alike.

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