1001 Plants: You must grow before you die


Sandy Felton reviews a new plant guide to help gardeners navigate the myriad number of species and hybrids available.

With the popularity of ‘bucket lists’ these days it is no surprise that eventually an author would come up with a horticultural version. In ‘1001 Plants: You must grow before you die’, general editor Liz Dobbs brings together a collection of species and hybrids to help both the enthusiastic beginner and seasoned gardener, navigate their way through the myriad number of plants available today.

side-9781844037926(1)I always find this type of guide really handy and frankly I don’t think you can have too many of them. What appeals in this publication is the compact size, although weighty, which is easy to handle. It is also easy to navigate as the author divides the guide into separate sections covering different types of plants, which I found straightforward and easier to browse through.

The index is at the front of the book, again useful as you can go straight to find what you are looking for without having to leaf to the back of the book. The sections cover annuals and biennials, bulbs, perennials, shrubs, climbers, roses, indoor and patio, herbs, vegetables and fruits. There is also an index by hardiness zone as well as a glossary.

Each plant has its own photograph and growing details and also an alternative suggestion. Each plant’s fact box gives practical pointers for growing the plant and to enable you to select the right variety for a given place in the garden. The box also includes the plant’s main features of interest, size, and planting preference.

The characteristics of the plant descriptions I found to be spot on for the ones I grow personally. The book benefits from the contributions of a transatlantic team of experts who have brought together their insight and expertise to the book to reveal why every entry deserves a place in our garden.

Writing in the Foreword, Graham Rice comments that: “Every plant chosen for this book is inspiring for its colour, its fragrance, the elegant style of the way it grows, its taste or simply its big bold impact. Perhaps you can’t grow every one – but grow some.” The problem for me leafing through the 1001 plants is that I really would like to grow them all!

Liz Dobbs in her Introduction points out the book focuses more on the personal ‘why grow’ rather than the ‘how to grow’ and I actually found this refreshing. However, there is no shortage of advice and the book gets gardeners into a seasonal rhythm

Gardeners are always open to new ideas and varieties but it is all too easy to get lost in the thousands of varieties we can grow and I feel sure that ‘1001 Plants’ will be a valuable aid in helping the reader decide on suitable plants and varieties.

Liz Dobbs, formerly editor-in-chief of Gardens Monthly magazine, is the author of over ten co-edition plant and garden books. She organized plant and tool trials for Which? magazine for ten years before writing researching and consulting on a wide range of consumer gardening issues.

1001 Plants: You must grow before you die‘ edited by Liz Dobbs with a foreword by Graham Rice is published by Cassell at £20.00 and will be available in bookshops from May 2016.