BOOK REVIEW: Plantiful


You will find that Plantiful: Start small, grow big with 150 plants that spread, self-sow, and overwinter by Kristin Green (2014 Timber Press) is a fabulous picture book of possibilities for the winter months when you can’t garden outside. With this book, you will be able to garden in your imagination.

With my focus on perennials, I was already headed in the direction suggested – start small with plants that spread, self-sow, and overwinter. I want my plants to spread so that they starve Florida Betony and Dollar Weed of light to grow. I want them to self-sow to save me the work of planting new seeds every season. I also want them to overwinter so that I don’t have the expense of starting over every year.

For the 150 recommended plants, the author provides the common and botanical name, whether the plant is an annual or perennial, warns if it tends to be invasive rather than just “opportunistic,” and gives the growing zones for perennials. The breakdown for the 150 plants went like this:

  • 50 faithful volunteers
  • 50 thrilling fillers
  • 50 come-back keepers

Ms. Green works at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum, a 33-acre nonprofit public garden in Bristol, Rhode Island,

Author’s Suggestions

When starting small, “reuse, replant, repeat.” In other words, make the most of what you do have by propagating more of it, begging cuttings from other gardeners and seed saving.

Plant your keepers in containers for ease in moving to a greenhouse or sun room as weather dictates, remove early bloomers and replace with perennials or tropical.

Ms. Green cautions the reader to give new plants the room they’ll need as they grow to maturity. So many novice gardeners fail to do this because they don’t pay attention to the spacing advice on the plant tag and end up with some giant of a tree, like bottle brush, too close to the house. If the plant tag does not provide adequate information, she suggested allowing two to three times the diameter of the crown.

I really liked her idea regarding seeds that must be sown directly in the soil — mark with a wooden Popsicle stick (write on it with pencil) and a little sand tossed over the spot.

I love garden books with lots of pictures and this one fits the bill. The kalanchoe, which she called a perennial, and I consider it a succulent, surprised me with the number of varieties that look nothing like the kalanchoe I allowed to die because I didn’t like it. I must look for a K. tomentosa that has fuzzy, thick grayish leaves with brown spots on the leaf tips.