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38
4.4 out of 5 stars
The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations (Rhs)
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2008
I just love this book! I've already spent a few happy hours armchair gardening. You can choose a favourite plant and find suggestions for others that harmonise or provide contrast but importantly flower at the same time and prefer similar conditions of light, shade, soil moisture and pH etc. You can then look up the entries for these plants for another set of suggested neighbours and so on... You can play a form of "Mornington Crescent" by seeing how many times you repeat this process before you come across "Verbena bonariensis". Maybe I should get out more and put my plans into action!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Not a surprise to find an RHS publication that 'does what is says on the cover'. A pleasure to use, for both novice and professional.

What appears initially to be just another book of beautiful photographs, turns out to be a comprehensive tome bursting with ideas. All right, by the very nature of things not all those ideas are new, but, having read the 'How to use the Book' section you can hardly go wrong. The impressive amount of detail ensures whatever idea takes you fancy, you will be given exact instructions on its suitabilty for your site. Not just for your climate zone, but water and light requirements, suitability of soil type, colour combinations , time year for flowering of each item in the combination, plant heights, plus variations on the basic planting combinations.

I am thinking of buying a second copy as one is bound to be soiled by constantly being outside working with(for) me.

Just Great.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2013
The book opens by stating it's not meant to be a series of recipes for perfect planting.... Unfortunately, a recipe book was exactly what I was hoping for! This book is laid out in the conventional sections of trees & shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs etc, with expanded sections for certain plants, e. g. roses. Each plant is then described and photographed with a handy guide to the range of conditions it will tolerate. A list of possible companions is then provided and this is where the trouble starts. The companion plants cover the entire range of the conditions the first plant tolerates, so you find a nice plant that will tolerate your partially shaded alkaline flower bed and then have to eliminate all the possible companions that need full sun or acid soil. And just to make to job more long winded, not all of the companions are actually featured in the book, so you have to go to an outside resource to find out they're not suitable for your conditions. Very frustrating!

I would much prefer a book which is divided by conditions, deep shade, partial shade, etc and then subdivided by moist or dry soil, acid to alkaline, exposed to sheltered and so on. I might only end up with only one recommendation for my difficult border, but at least it would form a solid base that would thrive and look good that I could get started on.

This book is enjoyable for browsing, does contain useful information and has lots of nice photos to look at (although the photographs do tend to emphasise contrasting schemes, rather than complimentary schemes, which I prefer.) I have spent many hours nosing through the book and I've enjoyed it, but it hasn't helped me to replant my difficult front border.

It's definitely a book for the armchair detectives who want to do a lot of extra research and careful planning. It's not a book for people who want a simple solution, to get their hands dirty and see a result.

Finally, the photographs are nearly all close ups of two or three plants together to show flower colour, leaf shape etc in close proximity. But this doesn't give an impression of what they would actually look like in a border, which is generally viewed from several feet away!

This book will work for some people, and it's as enjoyable as browsing through plant catalogues, but it's not a recipe book of planting schemes, so if that's what you're seeking or have a problem area to solve, you may be better off with something else.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 17 May 2012
Really helpful when planning garden; combined plants not only grow well together but also look fantastic.a must have
book for me.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2013
What a great idea for a book!
Sadly it is not a great book - in fact it is a total con!
This is written by Tony Lord with photographs by Andrew Lawson but which came first?
Have the photographs been taken to illustrate the text or has the text been written to make the best of the photographs?
I can't help thinking it is the latter.
Many of the `plant combinations' are far from great - bordering on the mundane.
The range and selection of combinations really does suggest that Mr Lawson is giving as many pics in his photographic library an airing rather than the pair of them really offering up a genuinely interesting and helpful work.
The lists of `other plants to use' for each combination illustrated are quite banal - seemingly plucked out of the air perhaps in haste - perhaps by Lawson rather than Lord.
It is quite shocking that the RHS has endorsed this shoddy book.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2009
I am disappointed with this book. I have found the other rhs guides very useful and have learnt a lot from them, but this seems to me to be more of a coffee table book. I find the planting suggestions uninspiring and unoriginal - honeysuckle with ivy for example. The photos seem underexposed, and have poor detail, as if the colours have bled. It is also difficult to use if you want to search for a particular plant. It is not organised in a simple A -Z fashion like an encyclopedia. It is split into strangely grouped sections. There are often many page references for one plant, because of the way the book is organised, and some that I would think quite ordinary aren't listed. I was surprised to find no section on ferns and grasses, yet there are large sections on roses and hostas, outside of the section on perennials. It is illogically organised. I find the section at the front about design unnecessary. The same goes for the advice about what colour and shape goes with what in the descriptions of the plants. I was hoping for an encyclopedia simply listing plant combinations, not a design book. It's ok if you have a lot of money, and are just beginning, and have no sense of colour or design.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2014
Thought this would be the answer to my planting design prayers. It wasn't. It's not bad, but it seems focus on larger shrubs rather than small perennials and didn't actually give me any planting combination ideas... I guess I wanted ideas for grouping plants together the would look good and give focus and cover to each other throughout the season. Will keep looking - though will probably still enjoy the odd browse of this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2010
I cannot imagine anyone who loves plants and gardening not loving this book. It is gorgeous and provides plenty of inspiration for unusual combinations, some of which are stunningly simple.

It's divided into sections covering groups of plants from small trees and shrubs, through climbing plants and roses, to perennials, bulbs and annuals. There's a useful introductory section that explains how to use the book and briefly explores the various factors to be considered when choosing plants to complement others - texture, habit, size, season etc - and offers a brief description of the styles of renowned gardeners such as Rosemary Verey or Christopher Lloyd.

The photographs are beautiful, as would be expected from Andrew Lawson, but for each combination shown there are alternative suggestions that would work equally well. In each section, the featured plants are listed in alphabetical order with basic cultural requirements such as aspect, hardiness, preferred soil pH, etc but the book doesn't purport to provide detailed cultural instructions and recommends being used in conjunction with an encyclopaedia of plants. This would certainly be useful for a beginner, or where you're not familiar with the genera discussed or with the variety of cultivars that could be tried instead.

All in all, it's a superb book to browse from an armchair by the fire, but it's also an inspiration to get outside to start planting.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2008
This is one of the most well-thumbed books in my garden book collection. It's a comprehensive guide to plants, but with a twist. Select a plant you're interested in and you'll find a number of suggestions of plants which combine with it well. A lot of gardening magazines suggest the same combinations time after time. Use this guide instead and you'll not only have a garden that's different from the rest, you'll have a garden that hangs together.

One word of warning - it won't prevent those impulse buys at the garden centre, but it will tell you which plants to buy to go with them at your next visit!
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on 17 June 2010
This book certainly helps to understand how to plant those nice flowers and shrubs that you can find in the shops.

I am satisfied with the purchase, have examined half of it yesterday and found some good ideas.

There are few minor issues that stop me from putting 5 stars rating.
- Quite many ideas aren't impressive, I got a feeling that they were added for the volume
- About one third of the photos (esp. for these rather mediocre ideas) are dull, not really attractive, they shouldn't be in such a book.

Still worth buying, because you'll definitely find something just for your garden or terrace, since there are lots and lots of them. And the price is nice.
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