Books and Gifts
We may be able to get immediate information on plants and advice on gardening from gardening magazines or online, but there is a strong case to be made for using selected garden books for garden and plant reference. Why not learn from the experience of practised garden and design experts, from the passion and knowledge of specialist plants people, from their ideas, tips and recommendations? And always have a source of knowledge and inspiration at hand. Of course you can’t buy every book, and some are very expensive, but if you don’t already have a copy, then the two Adrian Bloom authored books shown on these pages will give your lots of ideas for featuring perennials, grasses or conifers in your garden.
If you would like to buy a copy of either book, personally signed by Adrian Bloom, or you already have a copy of either and feel like sending us a review, however brief, please email to email@example.com
Bloom’s Best Perennials and Grasses
The gardens at Bressingham have proved a great trial ground over the years, and a basis for Adrian’s recommendations aimed at giving gardeners a greater success with time tested plants. Added to that has been Adrian’s experience of planning and planting gardens in North America and northern Germany. His recent book Blooms Best Perennials and Grasses gives expert plant choices and dramatic combinations for year-round colour, focusing on a selection of plants to achieve that purpose (published by Timber Press – available online at Amazon).
Pamela Lindholm-Levy, of Portland, Oregon, USA, wrote to Adrian to say how the “beautiful photos and helpful information” in the book had inspired her. She said:
“The chapter ‘Take Twelve Plants’ really spoke to me. I live in the Pacific Northwest of the US, where all of them thrive. I already had some of them and plan to fill my lawn-free garden with as many more as there is room for, thanks to the author’s clear and enthusiastic approach. ‘Bressingham Ruby’ Bergenia and Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ are now my ‘must have’ plants for this spring. Five Geranium ‘Rozanne’ plants cover a gentle slope down to my front sidewalk. I’m so happy to see that others think it’s a winner. A wonderful book!”
Gardening with Conifers
For an equally practical and useful book on using conifers in the garden and landscape, look at the conifer section for Adrian’s much-acclaimed Gardening with Conifers (above), published in the UK by Frances Lincoln and in North America by Firefly Books, Toronto, Canada – also available online at Amazon).
In this book, Adrian shares his expert knowledge of these often underrated plants. One gardening enthusiast, Sara Malone, of Sonoma County, California, found the book so inspirational she wrote about it in the Spring 2012 edition of Conifer Quarterly (a first class magazine published every three months by the American Conifer Society) and kindly gave us permission to use excerpts following her frustrations in creating a year-round interest with primarily perennials and grasses with the inherent maintenance work required:
Sara wrote: “To get the best performance from most of the perennials during the growing season, I had to ‘refresh’ them (i.e. hack the blazes out of them) every six to eight weeks. My vacation schedule revolved around the garden chores, most of which I was less and less interested in doing. Do I sound like someone ripe for a new garden romance? Little did I know that Mr. Right was on his way! He arrived in the form of Adrian Bloom, not in the flesh, but by way of his book, Gardening with Conifers … Adrian turned out to be the man of my dreams. In fact, he gave me a new dream entirely: to have a landscape as rich in colour as a perennial garden, but with year-round interest and much more structure and texture than perennials could provide. This was not just a new romance, but also a mature, enduring love affair which resonated deeply with me, after my infatuations with pretty flowers! It was also not lost on me that the woody plants would not require the constant attention demanded by the coquettish perennials.”
Sara planted a range of conifers from a pair of stately Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ with their cool powder blue needles to flank the front entrance to her garden, to a Cryptomeria japonica ‘Mushroom’ which has a full winter lilac-tinted bronze colouring. Other plantings included a Pinus mugo ‘Allgau’, the Hebe ‘Mrs Winder’ and a Pinus strobus ‘Pendula’.
She continued: “I never looked back … I have learned to pick and choose among the genera and cultivars and understand which selection is best for a particular spot. I have learned too that some of the workhorses are just as necessary as some of the “divas” and that conifers sometimes come in surprising forms and colours. My garden has graduated from an assortment of flowering perennials to a collection of specimen conifers and other rare and select woody plants. It now has four seasons of interest instead of two and has all the structure I felt was lacking in its prior incarnation, even on foggy days or in low light. I no longer spend the month of March chopping back perennials: I now spend it admiring the new foliage of the conifers. I marvel that I went so long before I found true garden love. Now as I wander the paths of my garden in all seasons, I find satisfaction and sustenance from the incredible variety of conifers that dominate the landscape. Their breadth is astonishing; from the grandeur of the sculpted Pinus nigra (currently the tallest conifer in the garden) to the delicacy of the Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Barry’s Silver’; from the rugged stoutness of Pinus jeffreyii to the elegance of Cupressus cashmeriana; from the turquoise of Cedrus deodara ‘Prostrate Beauty’ to the brilliant gold of Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Golden King’; from the whimsical Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Pendulum’ to the wistful Pinus wallichiana ‘Zebrina’ – oh, the list is endless!”
Of course, whilst it is satisfying to know that a keen gardener has been ‘switched on’ to conifers, we know in time they too require maintenance, and Adrian’s advice from work at Bressingham, as shown in Gardening with Conifers, is to use them with other plants.
Summer Garden Glory
While summer is generally acknowledged to be the season of maximum colour and interest in any garden, the crucial challenge is to provide a succession of pleasing plant compositions from spring to autumn. The heart of Adrian Bloom’s philosophy lies in planning and planting for continual change, to achieve year-round interest.
In this book, a natural sequel to his highly successful Winter Garden Glory, Adrian Bloom looks at the changing role of plants through the ‘busy’ seasons of the year, ranging from bulbs to trees, in addition to the more obvious shrubs and perennials. He discusses the particular challenges of summer gardens, such as the need for shade, holding moisture and providing late summer colour.
In the first chapter, the author describes seasonal changes from late spring to late summer in his own 6-acre garden at Foggy Bottom, highlighting favourite plant associations for each season. In the second chapter he shows how his principles and planting ideas can be applied to more modest gardens. Detailed planting plans and illustrations are given for plant associations in beds, borders and corners that would work in any size of garden. These include ideas for containers on a patio, an alpine bed and walls, as well as plants for scent.
The detailed plant directories contain Adrian Bloom’s personal selection of the best plants to create spring and summer interest. He selects his favourite trees, shrubs, perennials, conifers, grasses, ferns, alpines and bulbs, describing each plant’s particular merits and giving essential information on their hardiness and cultivation requirements.
Summer Garden Glory contains over 200 full-colour photographs, together with specially commissioned planting plans and colour illustrations. These combine with practical text and helpful tips to make the book an invaluable guide for anyone wishing to make the most of their garden in spring and summer.