If you live in Somerset, England, this book will be an irreplaceable guide to improving your woodland . . . or creating one from scratch. Ms. Junker is from Somerset, and her perspective is heavily dependent on those growing conditions. If you live someplace that's much colder, you'll need to check on the plants that interest you to see if they survive the winters in your area. To help with that, Ms. Junker provides a list of places where you can see woodland plants in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as nurseries that have display gardens to demonstrate woodland plant concepts. The gardens and nurseries may not be right next door, but I'm sure you'll enjoy the trip.
The book opens with Ms. Junker's concepts for a woodland garden, taking it from the perspective of not having a tree canopy through to already having one. She favors thinking of your woodland garden in three layers: the canopy of tall trees, intermediate plants (like rhododendrons), and flowering plants that will do well on the woodland floor (especially bulbs and ferns). She talks helpfully about how to deal with spaces of all sizes and degrees of being wooded.
I found the book very helpful since our property is heavily wooded with many intermediate layer flowering plants. But we haven't done much with the ground layer, so the book's ideas were intriguing to me. In addition, she drew my attention to ornamental tall and intermediate trees and plants that could provide some interesting variety in our woodland.
To me, the photographs helped the most. I could identify flowering plants by name that I've seen do well in our area. Combined with her information, I have the basis for many interesting experiments.
The book's main drawback is that plant directory (the bulk of the book) is not as fully illustrated as I would have liked. I suspect that the solution is to look up the formal botanical names on the Internet to find photographs that illustrate what's being described.
Ms. Junker has obviously forgotten more about woodland gardens than I'll ever know. It's great to be able to draw on her experience and ideas.
Nice work, Ms. Junker!
on 7 December 2012
A great book to read for ideas. But it would be good to have more photos, and details of sizes of plants. Some of those mentioned don't appear in the general plant reference books so it would have been good to hear more about them. But its a really interesting book, and well worth having.
on 4 February 2009
If you have any problems with "shade" and need to find planting solutions, this book just about does it all.Clearly written by an expert, but one who obviously cares passionately and imparts her knowledge in a down to earth and very accessible way.
Stuffed with wonderful, evocative photographs which complement the lucid text, it's a must for anyone who has despaired of finding "THAT PLANT" for the right spot.
This book stands alongside the great gardening classics of our time, and if you are any kind of dedicated gardner - woodland or otherwise - and like to buy gardening books, you would be foolish not to buy this one. Although inexplicably published in the USA, in 2007, this is wholly an English book, the author's own woodland garden and nursery being in Somerset. The front page suggests that despite the publication date, this may be the first edition, since there is no mention of reprints; I somewhat selfishly hope so, because if it is, one day it will be worth a lot of money. (Used copies are already being advertised at more than the RRP !)
It is rare to find such intimate and scholarly horticultural knowledge matched with such an engaging, easy-to-read, even sometimes gently romantic, writing style. No book of just under 400 pages could hope to encompass all plants able to grow in woodland, and some that I grow in my own woodland do not appear. But this is not a deficiency, merely a reflection of personal choice and experience, on which all the best garden writers base their recommendations. (Whereas the "hack" writers merely hand down conventional wisdom garnered from other literature.) One reviewer comments on the absence of illustrations of some of the plant entries. This, too, is inevitable given that over 2,000 are mentioned ! But even so, this book probably has more illustrations than any other book of comparable stature.
This is a gardening classic, which will fully stand the test of time; and on its special topic, may never be surpassed.