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Beth in Iowa
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Due to the possible controversy over this book, I'm writing a more careful and longer review than usual.
"Plantiful" is a book that, despite its usefulness, I'm a bit surprised ever got published due to the possible controversy over plants that spread, which some people confuse with genuinely invasive plants. The author's strategy is to make gardening easier, cheaper and more serendipitous by growing plants that are bountiful and exuberant: plants that self-seed and spread generously. In this way, gardeners can save money by buying fewer plants and have a garden that fills in quickly.
Does that mean the author (who is a full-time professional gardener for a 33-acre Rhode Island public garden - not just her 0.17-acre yard) is telling unknowing new gardeners to plant INVASIVE species? Absolutely not; in fact she spends a section of the book addressing that question:
Not all aggressive or weedy plants are invasive and not all invasive plants are invasive everywhere. The term "invasive" should be used only for introduced species that have escaped cultivation, colonized vulnerable ecosystems or outcompeted native species; it does NOT apply to plants that can be controlled within a tended garden. She advises that gardeners should consult state invasive species lists and local master gardeners, and lists any states in which the plants on her lists are actually considered to be invasive.
Green's lists include:
50 self-seeding annuals and perennials, with information on seed saving and propagation.
50 spreading perennials and shrubs, with info about dividing and propagating them.
50 tender perennials that can be overwintered in cold frames, basements and indoors.
The first section doesn't seem controversial to me; most gardeners value the way annuals and perennials can seed themselves into interesting spots, and our gardens are the more beautiful for it. Her list includes such cottage garden stalwarts as chives, milkweed, cleome, larkspur, foxgloves, columbines, California poppies, hellbores, bronze fennel, lupines, forget-me-nots, nigella, nicotiana, feverfew, mullein, and verbena bonariensis. Most gardeners love these flowers and wouldn't want to garden without them.
The second section of spreading perennials is probably what will leave some gardeners (such as the first reviewer of this book) gasping for breath in horror. I myself have never had problems with many of the plants on this list: Yarrow, Japanese anemones, mums, cranesbill geranium, lysimachia, lamium, monarda and phlox (both tall garden and creeping). However, there are undoubtedly some species on the list that have caused gardeners grief: plume poppy, lily turf, Mexican evening primrose and even spearmint.
Some gardeners may worry that new gardeners may unknowingly plant some of these species and regret the amount of time and physical labor to eradicate them, and there is some truth to this. However, Green is absolutely right that beautiful and enjoyable gardens are filled with plants that flourish and look exuberant. Should we avoid those plants and grow only species that don't spread or seed?
It seems to me that there is a continuum of species which is different for each location, ranging from 1) species that are unsuited to our climate, soil and location and which require heroic intervention simply to survive; through 2) well-behaved species that grow well but hardly increase or seed (which, if a gardener wants a carefully-controlled garden as a work of art, she should limit herself to growing); through 3) Self-seeders and exuberant spreaders that pop up in unexpected places which many gardeners will want to include, even though there is some work in keeping them from spreading "too much" (in that gardener's definition) - what "Plantiful" is about; through 4) Truly invasive species that damage natural areas or farms/other people's gardens, which should be avoided and destroyed when possible.
It's too bad that some gardeners will condemn this book outright because of their certainty about which plants are suitable for every gardener's location and temperament. There's a place for a book about knowledgeably growing self-seeders and spreaders -- the author is right that gardeners can make delightful, cost-effective gardens by including these exuberant plants.
The third section of the book covers overwintering tender perennials, which seems somewhat unrelated to the first two sections. Her reasoning is that overwintering allows gardeners to save money by not re-purchasing frost-tender plants each year, but overwintering seems to involve so much extra work to make them survive, and is unrelated to plants that grow (perhaps too) well outside.
The photos in the book are not particularly glorious, with only a few showing the larger design of gardens and most of them just closeups of listed flowers, but they suffice for the task. Her writing is certainly both knowledgeable and enthusiastic and does inspire me to try some of her ideas, while providing advice about how to go about doing it. Altogether a useful book, although one that is doomed to be condemned by gardeners suffering from invasive species hysteria. (Over-reacting by condemning every plant that spreads does a grave disservice to the important issue of real invasive species.)
(For a more detailed review, including photos, please visit my garden blog: gardenfancy.blogspot)