Roses and Other Gardening Joys is sponsoring a Garden Book Reviews meme every month on the 20th. This month is the first. I had planned to read a book I received as a birthday present (four months ago!), but that didn’t happen. Instead, children, today we’ll talk about a go-to book on my shelf: Perennial Garden Color: Perennials, Cottage Gardens, Old Roses, and Companion Plants by William C. Welch.
Dr. Welch is a garden guru from Texas A&M University. My parents-in-law are friends of his, so I regularly receive autographed copies at gift-giving occasions. This one’s autograph is dated 1997, and I have been referring to it ever since.
Though I cannot grow one, I have a great fondness for cottage gardens. The book begins with a brief overview of the history of cottage gardens, followed by a section outlining the different types of gardens that utilize old and new perennials in a cottage garden style. Next is a section devoted to garden design principals, utilizing – yes, perennials. The fourth chapter offers advice on buying or propagating, planting and growing perennials.
These sections are packed with great garden photos (my favorite part of any garden book). Dr. Welch’s narrative is interesting; he doesn’t get bogged down in plant jargon.
Most of my time with this book is spent in the dictionary portion: nearly 200 pages listing perennials appropriate for the Texas and gulf South garden. Each entry includes a photo, basic growth information, and a narrative with helpful hints on obtaining and growing each.
So let’s see, I’m planning to add a firebush (Hamelia patens) to my garden this spring. In perusing its entry, I learn that it is drought tolerant, blooms all summer, and is hardy to Zone 9. Its tubular red flowers attract hummingbirds, and it thrives in most any well-drained soil. Its leaves turn bright red in the fall. It freezes to the ground, and returns each year as a 4- to 5-foot mound. In Mexico, where it is native, people make a fermented drink from its berries. It can be propagated by seed or cuttings. And I’m summarizing – there’s more!
In short, this is a very useful book for those of us gardening in Texas and gulf South.
Favorite spot in the garden:
My favorite spot is actually in pots on the porch. In fact, these two pots (on either side of the front door) account for 90 percent of my blooms right now. So cheerful!