1001 Plants to Dream of Growing

Image of 1001 Plants to Dream of Growing
Release Date: 
March 28, 2016
Reviewed by: 

This gorgeous book is meant for anyone who is an aspiring gardener or an expert horticulturist, regardless of green-thumb abilities or current state of a reader’s yard or window box.

Though the photos aren’t particularly mind-blowing (they look like basic stock photography), the profusion of colors and the examples of each and every plant discussed is eye-catching. It would have been nice if the editors had offered more spreads of gardens exhibiting the various plants discussed. In particular, it would have been nice to see some city gardens or box windows with flowers or herbs planted—everything was reminiscent a manor house garden or in an expert landscaper’s yard.

The book is organized by groups—annuals, bulbs, perennials, shrubs, climbers, roses, indoor and patio, herbs, etc.—and then by botanical names with common names. Included with each plant are photos, along with its main features, height and spread of growth, sunlight position required, and hardiness.

Several paragraphs accompany the plant with information such as how to purchase the plant, where it’s native to, growing season, its particular diseases or issues, etc. The information provided with each plant is not consistent—in Perovskia readers will learn about its smell while in Podranea readers learn about its colors—and know-how of purchase would’ve been very useful for this resource (example: How to tell if your plant is healthy or when the best time to buy it is).

The front of the book contains an index by plant name while at the back is an index by hardiness zone, which would have been more useful upfront than a plant name index: Inexperienced or amateur gardeners will likely want to use this book as a quick reference tool to what is grown in their particular part of the world, rather than looking for plant names. Unfortunately, there’s no chart for understanding hardiness zones, and readers will need to consult the Internet.

This book, intended as a reference, is a bit unwieldy in its heft. If the book had perhaps been made significantly wider at the margins, the book would’ve been larger but perhaps more useable. As it is, this volume is really uncomfortable to hold or carry around and will likely fall apart with constant use because of its weight. Because of the size of this book, the print is also rather tiny. A cross-reference of plants to grow with each other would’ve been nice, but perhaps would’ve gone well beyond this book’s scope and weight limit. This is not a book to carry on the plane.

The choices of plants in this book is overwhelming. Some guidance of where to even begin or how to begin to plan a garden would be useful, even if it was just a list of resources. The popularity of the 1001 series would’ve lent some authority to whatever particular guides were suggested by the editors.

Ambitious readers will dream of the wild possibilities of an English garden or perhaps a perfectly manicured French one, of planting herbs in windowsill planters and replacing their weedy grass with more attractive ground cover. Recommended for more experienced gardeners.