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Garden Plants for Scotland [Hardcover]

Kenneth Cox , Raoul Curtis-Machin
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 May 2008

Scotland is one of the best places in the world to garden. Its maritime climate, ample rainfall, and the rarity of severe droughts and really hot weather mean that huge numbers of plants grow well there. But the climate varies considerably - from the colder, wetter, windier mountainous areas to the west coast where tender plants can be grown outdoors all year round - and choosing plants that are suited to the local conditions is critical to success. Kenneth Cox and Raoul Curtis-Machin have evaluated the performance of thousands of plants in gardens all over Scotland, drawing on the knowledge and experience of many gardeners and nurserymen, and in this book they describe - with over 800 photographs - the most reliable shrubs, conifers, trees, fruit and perennials for Scotland. In this book Scottish gardeners will find accurate information and hundreds of great plants ideally suited to where they live.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln (22 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071122675X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711226753
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Imagine if you were to head off on a tour of Scotland, stopping to chat with the country's garden experts at every town along the way.You could find out which trees stand up to the wind in Shetland, which climbers will survive on a north facing wall and even which plants are widely offered for sale in Scotland but should be left on the shelf. Sadly most of us don't have the time, resources or contacts to take such a trip, but the good news is that two men have done it for us.


An essential companion for any Scottish gardener, both experienced and beginner.

(Scotland Magazine)

An invaluable source of information for those selecting plants for Scottish gardens. This book certainly lives up to its title. It is informative, authoritative and will be a helpful source of information not just for gardeners in Scotland, but for anyone who gardens in a cold, wet and windly location.


When all the gardening world is focused on plants for drought, it's good to find a book for those who garden in the cold and wetter parts of the north.

Garden Plants for Scotland (Frances Lincoln £25/offer £22.50) hits the spot nicely. Kenneth Cox and Raoul Curtis-Machin know that climate well enough (Cox is part of the Glendoick Cox family of nurserymen, who have been collecting and growing rhododendrons for three generations) and so if a plant figures here, even a variety of rose, then you can be pretty sure it's going to do well north of the border and in the soggy, blasted Pennines. So keen are they on reliability that they have set up their own notional bone-hardiness rating in defiance of the Royal Horticultural Society's southern take on hardiness, and also their own Scottish Garden Award, similar to the RHS's Award of Garden Merit, for their best 500 plants, chosen after consultation with experts throughout Scotland. There are lists of plants “resistant” to deer and rabbits too - there's brave!


Contrary to what many Sassenachs might think, Scotland is one of the best places in the world for gardening, it ample rainfall and lack of severe droughts mean that many plants including raspberries and rhododendrons- thrive there. And yet there have been very few books devoted to Scottish gardening. This excellent volume aims to put that straight…

(Sunday Telegraph)

If you are gardening north of the Border you could not fail to find this book extremely informative, but also a source of amusement and entertainment and there are not many gardening books with this winning combination.

(Caledonian Gardener)

About the Author

KENNETH COX is grandson of planthunter, writer and nurseryman Euan Cox and son of Peter Cox VMH. These three were and are considered the world's leading experts on rhododendrons. Himself a nurseryman, Kenneth is the author of numerous books, including The Encyclopedia of Rhododendron Hybrids (with Peter A. Cox), A Plantsman's Guide to Rhododendrons, Cox's Guide to Choosing Rhododendrons (with Peter Cox), The Encyclopedia of Rhododendron Species (with Peter Cox), Rhododendrons: a Hamlyn Care Manual and Rhododendrons and Azaleas. He is managing director of the family firm Glendoick Gardens Ltd near Perth.


Born in Scotland, RAOUL CURTIS-MACHIN developed a passionate interest in gardening from the age of thirteen. With an honours degree in landscape management from Reading University, he became Head Gardener for ICI, then set up his own London-based business, designing gardens for celebrity chefs, rock stars, Crown Arab Princes and business tycoons. He has improved gardens and estates throughout Scotland, the UK, France, and Istanbul. He is Head of Horticulture at the Horticultural Trades Association in Theale, Berkshire.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only plant reference book needed in Scotland 28 Aug 2010
I've gardened for thirty years in Scotland on a large scale. Had I bought this book at the outset, I would have saved a fortune on unsuitable plants and varieties. It's opinionated (good books are); detailed (doesn't just tell you which varieties are best, but also which to avoid); pretty inclusive (I work on the basis that a plant not listed is unlikely to survive in Scotland); and well illustrated. I keep a copy in the house and one in the car to use as a reference in any nursery I stumble across.

I rate this book a must for serious gardeners.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great starting point for scottish gardens 22 Sep 2009
By Peter C
Informative, well laid out, beautifully illustrated, even entertaining on occasions. Inevitably of more use for beginners than experienced gardeners, but will keep you right in curbing any flights of fancy as to what might actually grow well in your garden. Utility may vary as to where you live - sheletered coastal dwellers may wonder what the fuss is about - however those on the wind scoured fringes, or (like us) up in the hills will find the specific scottish guidance as to what will flourish long-term invaluable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Garden plants for Scotland 3 Feb 2009
A fantastic, informative but easy read. I couldn't put it down. I was so impressed by it that I've bought my sister a copy too. So many of the plants recommended on gardening programmes don't survive in Scotland it is good to have such a book to refer to - and it will save me a fortune.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential book 4 Jun 2009
If you garden in Scotland then this is an invaluable book telling you what will survive and more importantly what won't! Also lots of other very useful about gardening and buying plants in general. Even has a section on what to plant if rabbits and deer are a problem!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!!! 2 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Best Garden book for Scotland's gardening
Well written and very usefull.
Has loads of photos that make it useful to identify a plant and then find the name and growing condition required.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plants for Scotland 7 Feb 2009
I suppose it depends what you're looking for, but I found this book disappointing. The blurb promised advice on 'gardening in Scotland's unique conditions', which was what I wanted to know about. Well, there is some, but it is minimal and is hidden in a very general introductory section of only 25 pages, which also includes information such as how to pick a good plant in a garden centre and how to deal with pests and diseases. You can get these in any gardening book.

The rest of the book, about 200 pages, is simply a catalogue of plants. Most of them are quite ordinary and having been gardening and reading about plants for over thirty years I didn't find it at all useful. However, for a beginner it would probably be very helpful.

The blurb also mentions 'the variation in climate from region to region'. I didn't find anything about this aspect of Scottish gardening, except the fact that the variation exists. There was nothing about how it would affect the choice of plants in particular areas eg east or west coast, Highlands, Central Belt or Borders, sea level or hilltop. The writers seemed to assume that all readers would be wanting to grow half-hardy exotics, which, unsurprisingly, they did not recommend in general, although they gave some instances of places where they could be grown.

As a summary I should say that someone who was new to Scottish gardening would probably get a fair amount out of this book, but if you've been gardening here for a while, don't bother with it, or borrow it from a library or browse it in a bookshop, to get the very small amount of useful information it contains for experienced gardeners. That information is certainly not worth 25 + p&p.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Yes, I can really recommend this book for anyone interested in gardening and living in Scotland, for one can be swayed far too easily into wanting to buy some wonderful plant, but here a really rich variety of them are treated and thus one can find out whether that desired plant will actually thrive in Scotland and what conditions it must have to do that if it is a more delicate one for these climes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Our new bible. 6 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A bible for Scottish gardens. Has saved us wasting more money plants that may be hardy further south but struggled up here.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
Full of great info will take with me when I go to buy plants definitely recommend a must have if you like your garden many thanks
Published 12 months ago by G macdonald
5.0 out of 5 stars useful reference book when shopping for plants
Found this book a great help when replanting my garden recently, not wishing to waste money on unsuitable plants (as in past) but wanting to buy a couple of less common garden... Read more
Published 16 months ago by reviewMaid
5.0 out of 5 stars Garden Plants for Scotland
Every gardener in Scotland should have a copy of this book. The conditions and climate in this country are very different to other parts of the UK, and the advice given within is... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Corbie
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent plant book
As a professional gardener this book is excellent, finally a well researched, thoughtful,honest and informed guide to the plants which actually have a chance of success in Scotland... Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2012 by NGuthrie
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have for Scots gardeners
We saw this super book at an arboretum when on holiday and regretted not buying it. Now we have and it is used almost every day for planning planting for my husband's business and... Read more
Published on 5 Jun 2012 by Station Gardener
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book for the Scottish garden
This is a first rate book written specifically for people gardening in Scotland. Suitable for anyone, not only novice gardeners. Read more
Published on 9 May 2012 by Evelyn
5.0 out of 5 stars A Scottish gardening bible
Moved to Dumfries & Galloway (now living at 200m above sea level) from the south-west of England a few years ago and mistakingly thought that some of my favourite plants that I... Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2011 by D&G lady
5.0 out of 5 stars Gardening for the Scottish climate
Indispensable. Wish I'd discovered this book in Spring when I started designing my garden. I wouldn't buy any more plants without referring to it.
Published on 25 Aug 2011 by hollyberry
5.0 out of 5 stars Garden Plants for Scotland
This is a must have plant guide for anybody living in northern parts of the UK but also a great reference book wherever one lives. Read more
Published on 1 Aug 2011 by Hamish
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely indispensable
I don't garden in Scotland but in Cumbria, 30 minutes south of the border where conditions are very different from those in the south of England where I had gardened for 30 years. Read more
Published on 19 July 2011 by BilboWaggins
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