It is for plant lovers and landscape designers who are always searching for plants with more than one season of interest.
As Rice points out, choosing plants that create different displays at different times of the year is one of the best ways to make the most of limited space. In larger spaces, such plants create more opportunities for fascinating combinations. The seasonal changes are well illustrated in the photographs, often side by side, taken by Judy White.
While flowers attract most people, there are several reminders in this book that there are other elements that supply beauty and interest in the landscape: bark, winter stems, winter and early spring rosettes, colorful new shoots, unfurling foliage, summer foliage, evergreen foliage, fall foliage color, and fruits as well as fragrance, habit, and edibility.
The book is arranged alphabetically by genus with one exception which is ornamental grasses as a group and most of the plants are hardy in our northern climate although the author is British. Rice rightfully points out that although a particular genus is listed, not all of its species and cultivars are created equally; particular care must be paid to selecting the right ones. While I applaud most of Rice’s selections, I do take issue with Meconopsis, spectacular though it is. Sadly, it grows well in only a few locations, namely Britain, Canada, and the American Northwest, and even then, tends to be short lived. Ah well, maybe we all need to dream the impossible dream?
Rice, Graham, Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty, Timber Press, Portland, 2012, paperback, $24.95.