October 14th, 2014
My decades-old effort to keep you from wasting money on killed plants has led this week to a new resource – a book filled with the 170 top plants I’d recommend for Pennsylvania landscapes.
That’s right. My first gardening book is just off the press, and it’s called the “Pennsylvania Getting Started Garden Guide.”
The 240-page paperback is our region’s version of a nationwide series that Cool Springs Press does to help gardeners zero in on the best choices for their particular area.
(Get a discounted and autographed copy directly from George at his Buy Helpful Info page.)
Locally targeted advice is hugely important, I think, which is what attracted me to saying yes when Cool Springs’ editor Billie Brownell asked me to write the Pennsylvania edition.
What works in New England or Florida or even Baltimore may not work very well in our shale, clay and erratic weather. The more local the plant selection, the better. And when you stack the odds in your favor by knowing and buying the plants most likely to be happy in your yard, you save yourself a lot of work, money and aggravation.
Philadelphia garden writer Liz Ball did the original version of what was then called the “Pennsylvania Gardener’s Guide” back in 2002. She updated it in 2007 and since then has mostly retired from garden-writing.
So when Cool Springs decided it was time for another fresh look, Liz passed along my name. Isn’t she nice? (Answer: Yes, and her husband, Rick Ray, is a retired Barnes Foundation Arboretum School hort instructor with an encyclopedic knowledge of anything containing chlorophyll.)
Tons of great new plants and varieties have come along these past 5 to 10 years, so not only did I get to pick my tried-and-true favorites, I could incorporate the latest-and-greatest.
The bulk of the book consists of one-page profiles of the 170 best-for-Pennsylvania plants, arranged in chapters by plant type (annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, etc.)
The profiles include specific tips on when, where and how to plant each plant; advice on caring for them afterward; how best to use each selection in the landscape, and probably the most overlooked tidbit, which varieties are the best of the best. Knowing the highest-performing varieties is a key bit of information that separates the average gardener from the skilled plant geek.