It’s the middle of winter, my garden is under a blanket of snow, and what else do I have to do except browse through gardening books. Always a dangerous occupation for a confirmed tree and shrub addict like myself.
I covet trees and shrubs like some women covet shoes. I’m not fussy about having a particular ‘brand’ or about planting every cultivar of a particular species but I do like a lot a variety in my garden. This time of year I pour through garden catalogues, order new books and magazines, looking for that new variety that I just ‘have to have’.
To me, trees and shrubs are among the most useful and colourful plants you can have in your garden. They offer year round interest (even deciduous trees and shrubs offer structure in the winter garden), come in a variety of leaf colours and texure, and there are shrubs that will bloom for every month of the season.
Some of my favourite books to research trees and shrubs include Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs by Michael Dirr and Continuous Color by Pam Duthie. Some great resources for native species include Trees of the Carolinian Forest by Gerry Waldron, Shrubs of Ontario by James Soper and Margaret Heimburger and Trees of Ontario by Linda Kershaw. I also like to keep old nursery catalogues but beware many nurseries only carry the most popular varieties so you will potentially miss out on so many other great plants. The Woodland Garden by Roy Forster and Alex Downie is a great resource if you are planning a woodland garden. It divides plants by trees for the canopy and understory, shrubs for the understory and woodland edge, climbers and perennials for the woodland floor.
For perennials I like an oldie but a goodie – Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Perennials.
Well, back to the garden books. In addition to selecting some small trees and shrubs for around our new pool, this winter is dedicated to researching native varieties of perennials to plant among my favourite trees and shrubs. To do this I of course had to order a new boook. 100 Easy-To-Grow Native Plants For Canadian Gardens by Lorraine Johnson. Another great list book!
I wonder how long this years list of new additions will be.