As a first-time homeowner and a complete beginner at yard care, I was at a loss looking at all the 30 or so plants I inherited. Most typical gardening books assume the reader would have at least some basic knowledge of what common plants' names are, while I could not even tell Lavender from Salvia (they both looked purple to me). I had been asking my neighbors, friends, and my gardener about them, until I came across this book.
Plants are grouped under several major categories, like Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, etc. What's really helpful is, in each section, plants are listed first by Size (Large, Medium, and Small), then in the order of Seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter/All Year), followed by Color sequences. For example, for looking up Trees, first ones are Large Spring (White, Pink, Red,...) then Large Summer (White, Pink, Red,...), and so on. It was a lifesaver for an ignorant idiot like me, as I simply brought the book in my yards, and flipped the pages until I found a match to the picture, then moved on to the next plant. Doing it this way I was able to identify the majority of my plants.
Sure, I agree with the first reviewer that the two-step indexing (first from common names to Latin names, then the actual plant index by Latin names) is cumbersome. But again, since I didn't even know the common names (Lily-of-the-Nile, Crimson Bottlebrush, etc), I didn't use the book that way and was not bothered by it.
As for picture quality, I found them clear and excellent. Most of them focus on the single most important identifying trait (close-up of the flower, the leaf appearance, or the far distance capture of the overall shrub shape...). Of course there are a few exceptions that still left me confused after seeing the photos, but the pictures are bigger and more plentiful than those in other books, such as the highly praised Sunset Western Garden Book.
In summary, I'm happy I found this book, which I'm calling "A Beginner's First Book". It does what an encyclopedia should do. Yes, it's lacking detailed care instructions like those in the Sunset Western Garden Book, but that's not what it was meant to be. It seems for Master Gardeners, this book is too basic and does not offer any new info that they don't know already. But if you are just starting out like me, hopefully this book can be helpful to you.