The notable garden writer Ken Druse -- author of more than 17 books -- has outdone himself in his latest volume, Natural Companions: The Garden Lover's Guide to Plant Combinations (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012). He teamed up with photographer Ellen Hoverkamp, whose horticultural prints are among the most breath-taking you will ever see.
As Druse puts it in the afterward to the book, it's "not a standard 'how-to' manual, but rather an aesthetic 'what to' reference ... like a travel guide suggesting possible itineraries, directing you to fascinating places and things to see on your journey." Your journey through the garden, of course.
Mind-bending possibilities for plant combinations are featured throughout the book, whether the plants are arranged for seasonal interest, architectural form, color, or themes like "good vibrations," "boxed in," or "literally literary." Some of my favorites: perennial goldenrod with a deep reddish-purple Salvia splendens; Baptisia 'Carolina Moonlight' with Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'; Mexican blue palm (Brahea armata), Aloe distans and Echeveria imbricata, which makes you want to move to California.
You will not find any book that inspires you more, that gives you such a wealth of information on plant combinations, and that you will return to again and again and again ... as you attempt to replicate what Ken and Ellen have created.
And oh yes, a place on the coffee table forever.
Ken's classic book on plant propagation, Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012) is now out in paperback. It's all here -- sowing seed, cuttings, layering, grafting, division and much, much more. Ken explains the botany behind it all in simple terms, then guides you through the techniques you need to make more plants. It's all illustrated with large, beautiful photos so that there's not much chance you'll make a mistake when you try it yourself.
It is the one book on the subject that you really should have on your bookshelf.