This guide to garden perennials provides a very well written synopsis of many garden plants. It is very readable. Sadly there are no photos of the plants and only a few line drawings. You'll need to refer to your RHS guide as well to get the picture of the plants. This is probably a book for the enthusiastic collector rather than the beginner. Photos are essential in my view and the RHS and other guides provide those.
When thus book was published, herabceous perennials were having one of their periodic revivals, and for many years this was the best-known book on the subject. Thomas, one of the greats of British gardening, treats the reader to a lifetime's wisdom distilled to a concise and elegant text.
Do not expect the modern sort of pictorial handbook; there are few photographs and, astonishingly by today's standards, many of the plants are illustrated with line drawings. The worth is in the written detail; learn which plants are the most beautiful, how they behave in the garden, what they need and how to get the best out of them. Thomas tells us how to propagate them and what they go best with. Grasses and ferns respectively each have a sepaprate section at the end of the main list. There is a further section of keys, select lists and assorted bits and pieces at the end.
This is not a book for the beginner, but if the beginner gets hooked on gardening then this is an excellent resource. He personal taste in plants can be detected after some time BUT what is invaluable is his evaluation of a plant and its cultural requirements. I think this book is very reliable and when you need to consult an expert there he is on your bookshelf which will help to choose between one plant and the next or between different species.
Written by someone who really knows his plants, this book contains a wealth of information, all the more so because often the plant descriptions include the personal comments from the author as to the plants' garden worthiness.
It is well presented and the basics about each plant such as size, flower colour, flowering period and more are clearly set out, along with occasionally any special merits indicated by the relevant symbol. Also sometimes included are quotes from other notable gardeners. The introductory chapters on cultivation, plant hardiness and more make interesting reading, and the book includes grasses and ferns listed separately. Also included are various lists such as suggestions for other garden books, nurserymen and more.
This may not be the best illustrated book, but the book is not about pictures, it is about informed comment, at at that it succeeds 100%. It is always one of the first books I turn to for information on and assessments of perennial plants.
As someone who works in a Garden Centre I have tended to collect a plethora of gardening books. There are a few authors whose opinions and observations I find invaluable. Of these, who include Margery Fish, Christopher Lloyd and Roy Lancaster, none is more instructive than Graham Stuart Thomas. The book does not sound like 'a good read', being simply an alphabetical list of perennials. However I often find myself saying 'Let's see what GST thinks of this variety' and grab the book to see how his assessment compares with that of those who are hawking the plant. The work might be regarded as outdated in that many more recent varieties are not included. This does not seem to me to be a particular disadvantage for what one might call the 'serious gardener'. There is enough tempting information to send one searching for particular plants which have been in cultivation long enough for their weaknesses to have been noted and explored. The writing is never opinionated but displays an obvious and easy familiarity with a wide range of plants. In my opinion the book is wonderful. An ideal present for those about to become more 'serious' about their gardens.