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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Perennial Care Manual: Book Review

If you're a gardener, you probably already know that gardening in the south is much different than gardening anywhere else in the U.S.

Then there’s Florida. Florida takes that difference to a whole other level.

You can understand why I might have been a bit reluctant when asked to review Nancy J. Ondra's latest book. Knowing what I do about Nan as a superior garden designer and cultivator of her own beautiful gardens I was certain the book would be a valuable resource. But I must admit I wondered if Florida readers would benefit from the information given.

Much to my delight I found The Perennial Care Manual to be a useful and handy source. No matter where your garden is located every gardener must learn the basics of planting, staking, pruning, mulching, dividing and propagating. Nancy, known to the blogging world as Nan of Hayefield and Gardening Gone Wild has thoroughly covered each of these techniques in her latest book. She's done this in great detail yet in the simplest terms, accompanied with wit, that gardeners of all skill levels will appreciate. While the seasons and timing aren't always applicable to Florida's subtropical, year-round gardening environment, the knowledgeable instructions and tips Nan shares are universal techniques to assist and teach all gardeners.

Nan is sensitive to the differences in regions and environments in her writing and makes reference to this fact on occasion aptly stating, "Location, location, location. Where you live also influences how light affects your plants. A perennial that thrives in all-day sun in northern gardens may suffer greatly with that much light in a hotter area. Southern gardeners may find that perennials touted as needing full sun ~~ like crocosmia grow just fine with morning sun and shade for part or all of the afternoon."

Part-two: A Plant-by-Plant Perennial Guide.
What a remarkable and orderly inventory of 125 popular plants. Each is listed with its botanical name, common name, quick summary, growing tips, seasonal care, and troubleshooting advice. Many of the plants I found fascinating and fun to learn about even though they won't grow well in my neck of the woods. Even so, there are several of them featured that our region can and does grow.

Overall it is a beautiful book chocked full of colorful photos by photographer Rob Cardillo. It is a page-turner complete with "what to do and when to do it" information coupled with stunning captures of flower after flower in gorgeous detail and striking garden views and plant groupings.


  1. Its always wonderful to find gardening books that make sense for where you live. Thanks for introducing me to Nan's book.

  2. Then there's Florida!! How correct you are in that statement. I will be looking for this book.

  3. Nan is a good writer. You are too and I like your new look on the blog.

  4. And even within Florida, there are huge differences in winter climates.

    Good review, Meems.

  5. I was sent a free copy and reviewed it as well. It has become a DAILY resource for me as I double-check the Fall care suggestions for my perennials -- as well as the perennial seeds that I sow in fall. In fact, the book is sitting open to Dictamnus (gas plant) because I was reading about it before sowing the seeds!


  6. Meems, They couldn't have chosen a better reviewer to check out Nan's book. You do write beautifully, but you are also thorough and thoughtful.
    This will go on the Christmas list that my son asks me to compile each November;) gail

  7. It is a great book. I reviewed it for Examiner, and gardening in Oklahoma is unusual just like Florida. Glad you liked it too.~~Dee

  8. Hi Meems~~ I love the book, at least your very skilled review of it. Perhaps you should consider writing the exclusive Florida garden book. :)

    When I was having trouble leaving a reply on your blog it was the word verification. There was no word and I couldn't get one to generate. I'm sure the error was on my side of the fence. Anyway, all seems to be well now. Love your banner.

  9. meems,

    ever thoughtfully reviewed in your true fashion of details...glad you found it a good resource. i will have it check it out.
    hugs and happy autumn gardening.


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