Magic happens when perennials are beautifully combined. Some gardeners just seem to have the creative knack for mixing plants to create pretty combinations, but the vast majority of us need a little help and that's where Nancy J. Ondra's latest book The Perennial Matchmaker comes in.
This is a book whose practical tips and methods for creating plant pairings move beyond replicating pretty pictures. Drool-worthy pictures of plant combinations are all well and good, but if the plants pictured don't grow well in your garden, or aren't readily available to you, the inspiration is somewhat useless.
The matchmaking process begins with a plant that is successful for you and builds out from there. Before you can begin to find the perfect partner for a plant, Nan suggests you need to identify a key feature you want to play up. It could be the color of the flower, the color of the foliage or any other attribute that you want to accentuate.
A combination from the book The Perennial Matchmaker: Allium Globemaster with Geranium macrorrhizum. (c) 2016 Nancy J. Ondra. Used with the permission of the publisher Rodale Books.
The Perennial Matchmaker showcases 80 popular perennials. There is a basic profile of each plant
focusing on its key characteristics with notes on suggested partnerships based on color, shape and texture, and seasonal features.
Of course when choosing the perfect partner not all the considerations are purely aesthetic. Some benefits are more practical. For instance, with alliums like the ones pictured above, Nan suggests that low mounded plants can help to disguise the yellowing foliage of alliums whose flowers have faded.
Each perennial chapter also includes a handy list of potential "Bloom Buddies" that are likely to flower at the same time.
Nancy's book offers the novice gardener ready-to-go ideas in of photographs of perennial partners and Nan's "Top 10 Perennial Pairings." For the more experienced gardener, there are chapters on how to find inspiration, tips for working with color, ideas for to adding seasonal interest and even ways of extending plant combinations beyond simply mixing perennials.
I must confess that my views on this book are not entirely unbiased. I, along with many other photographers and bloggers, contributed images to the book. It may surprise you to know that the photographs are my one minor disappointment with the book. There is some gorgeous photography in The Perennial Matchmaker, but most of the images are small.
I have a feeling that the small photographs are intensional. I think Nan does not want readers limited to copying combinations they see in pictures. She wants to arm her readers with the tools and ideas necessary to create their own magical combinations.
I have a copy of The Perennial Matchmaker that I am going to give away in a draw. If you would like to enter, please leave a comment below. For this draw, I will have to limit a winner to North America. The draw will remain open for the next seven days.
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About the author: Nancy J. Ondra is the author of more than a dozen books on gardening. As well as more than thirty years of gardening experience, she has owned and operated a rare plant nursery. Nan writes about Hayefield, her four acre property County Pennsylvania, on the blog hayefield.com. As well as The Perennial Matchmaker, Nan has a second book, Container Theme Gardens, that is newly released this spring.