by Stephanie Cohen & Jennifer Benner

Timber Press, $19.95, 248 pages

The philosophy of this book is to garden smarter, not harder. The key taught is that gardening should be fun. This beautiful book is not just full of information; it is a pleasant read, with stories about the experiences and lessons learned by other gardeners. As I sat down and read the first few pages, my own garden came to mind and new ideas began to form, based on the wonderful new knowledge I’d gained from this book. Instructions for a mixed border came early in the book, and what gardener doesn’t want one of those?

Many garden books read like a text, but this one has easy design ideas and suggestions that are clearly written. It includes inspiring pictures of lovely landscapes throughout. The authors recommend plants that provide beauty, yet require minimal maintenance. They describe methods and plants to create a garden that looks good all year long. The reader will also learn about cultivation and the pests, diseases and other problems for each plant. All the information is good to know before putting time, labor and money into your yard. The common plant name is given before the scientific name. My own garden would be much better today if I had owned this book when I started. A beginning gardener or a seasoned veteran will benefit from the happy ideas and valuable information.

Reviewed by Fran Byram