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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We all need help like this
Billed as the only book on this growing condition, I was interested to read what was advised, having several dry-shade areas in my own garden. The book starts by discussing the nature of the problem of planting against shady walls or under trees. It goes on to explain how to improve the situation by reducing shade and increasing the amount of available moisture around...
Published on 10 Dec. 2011 by Mr. Colin G. Elliott

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy Reading
This is a very useful book for a difficult garden situation. However, it was obviously aimed more at an American audience than a British one, which I found a little disappointing as nothing had prepared me for this. I did not know that Graham Rice is now working in America.
Published on 4 Oct. 2011 by pandora


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We all need help like this, 10 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Planting the Dry Shade Garden: The Best Plants for the Toughest Spot in Your Garden (Paperback)
Billed as the only book on this growing condition, I was interested to read what was advised, having several dry-shade areas in my own garden. The book starts by discussing the nature of the problem of planting against shady walls or under trees. It goes on to explain how to improve the situation by reducing shade and increasing the amount of available moisture around trees. Crown thinning, crown thinning and tree removal are suggested options to increase light levels while a range of techniques are available to improve fertility and soil moisture content.

In dealing with the soil the suggested actions are to raise soil levels, improve soil quality, install irrigation and mulch regularly. Container planting is also proposed. Increasing soil depth is a common but controversial technique, and one which may have your local authority tree officer rushing `round to intervene. Few trees can confidently be predicted to thrive or even survive if more than four inches of fill are placed directly over their roots, so great care must be taken when gardeners construct raised beds as suggested. The rule of thumb is to preserving the existing levels in a circular area around the tree, equal in diameter to at least one-foot for every inch of stem diameter. This means that I should protect an area of 100 feet (30m) around our 150 year old Sequoia which is 8ft 4" (2.55m) in diameter!

The other issue not discussed here is the serious harm which may be done to trees by planting amongst their roots. Regular cultivation of the soil can also remove or damage delicate feeding roots and introduce soil-borne diseases, so a high degree of care must be taken when gardening under trees.

As Graham Rice points out, what can be grown in dry shade depends on how bad the problem is - after all, some on the world's finest gardens are woodland gardens. The main part of the book describes a range of plants suitable for the toughest conditions, a source of inspiration to those gardeners who have about given up hope with their own shady areas. Around 130 plants are listed and illustrated, with descriptions written in a style that suggests he knows them personally. The well-illustrated sections are divided into Shrubs, Climbers, Perennials, Groundcovers, Bulbs and Annuals and Biennials. We already have a few of the plants suggested in our bed under the Sequoia and another in the shade of the neighbour's Lawson Cypress but I am happy to say that I learned a thing or two and plants I might have not considered were brought to my attention. It is the nature of such a book that a few of my favourites were left out, while some of the suggestions would need controlling if they were not to take over more favoured parts of the garden.

All in all I would recommend this book to gardeners of both the armchair and the hands-on kinds. It is written by a well-respected and knowledgeable plantsman and aimed at garden owners on both sides of the Atlantic. At just over £10 from the Garden Design Academy bookshop, it could make an ideal stocking filler this Christmas.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IT'S THE ONLY ONE THERE IS..., 15 Oct. 2011
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Jeff Walmsley "JW" (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Planting the Dry Shade Garden: The Best Plants for the Toughest Spot in Your Garden (Paperback)
There are plenty of Gardening books with sections or chapters on gardening in dry shade, but this is the only one dealing exclusively with this subject, and in the absence of any serious drawbacks you have to give it five stars for that reason alone.

The fact that it is fundamentally an American book need not deter British gardeners, for although he has lived in the USA for many years, Graham Rice is himself a Brit and being no slouch either in gardening knowledge or business enterprise, makes a point of appealing to both markets. All the plants and techniques listed are equally applicable over here, and in fact, you could quite easily assemble his list of plants from scouring British books with a section on his subject. I am grateful that he has done this job for me and that I no longer have to undertake a tedious trawl through a dozen volumes for ideas for this difficult part of my garden (and getting drier year by year).

I could nitpick, of course -- he describes Berberis stenophila as a non-invasive, but in my garden it seeds itself prolifically everywhere and can be a considerable nuisance, and there are a few notable omissions from the plant list, particularly saxifraga x urbium (London Pride), the ubiquitous English and Spanish bluebells, and Centranthus ruber (Valerian), perhaps one of the the most valuable of flowering perennials for dry shade, coming in both white and reddish varieties, and being evergreen into the bargain -- but you can say similar things about almost any garden book, the subject being so vast and plants themselves being so variable under different conditions.

Don't expect a list of spectacular flowering plants, incidentally; dry shade is not the place for these.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dry shade garden, 23 April 2012
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This review is from: Planting the Dry Shade Garden: The Best Plants for the Toughest Spot in Your Garden (Paperback)
I have a wooded garden, most of which is dry and deep shade. This book is most helpful, clear, easy to read, and understand. I am now keen to start planning. and planting suitable plants which will not fade and die, as so often has happened. The illustrations are also good, and make it simple to visualise the finished areas. An excellent little book, packed with information.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I need, 3 May 2013
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This review is from: Planting the Dry Shade Garden: The Best Plants for the Toughest Spot in Your Garden (Paperback)
This is a very helpful book to refer to when planning what plants would fill an empty piece of border or where other underplanting is required. Can't wait to see the outcome of my labours. Really pleased with service, would use this supplier again.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy Reading, 4 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Planting the Dry Shade Garden: The Best Plants for the Toughest Spot in Your Garden (Paperback)
This is a very useful book for a difficult garden situation. However, it was obviously aimed more at an American audience than a British one, which I found a little disappointing as nothing had prepared me for this. I did not know that Graham Rice is now working in America.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb gardening book, 29 July 2014
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Read it when I got it. Very clear, informative and recommends good reasonable plants. Obviously well-researched and not just re-hashed from the work of others.
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