I don’t typically read a ton during the busy summer season, most often I’m referencing a book about a specific plant or gardening technique. This summer, I managed to squeeze in some reading, most of it revolved around gardening. ‘The Know Maintenance* Perennial Garden’ by Roy Diblik popped up when I was reading about a Piet Oudolf garden, so I decided to give it a try. Roy is the owner of Northwind Perennial Farm in Burlington, Wisconsin, so he knows about cold climate gardening (which was one of the reasons I decided to buy this book)
The method set forth in this book is genius and something I definitely am going to try in a garden space here. The basic idea is: choose the correct plants, space plants well, weed well for the first year or two, cut back plant material in spring to mulch the garden. That’s essentially it, there’s not a lot of extra work involved. The key comes through choosing the correct low-maintenance plants.
Pictured in the book are lovely perennial gardens, the kind I tend to like most. Many of them are in the Piet Oudolf style of the waves of perennials blending in and out of each other, rich with texture and color throughout the seasons. The recommended plants are tough ones that require no staking or tedious care, thus making it a very low-maintenance approach (especially after the first few years when the plants fill in and shade out weeds in the garden).
Inside the book there’s a very thorough plant library with photos of the recommended plants, along with growing information. Many of them are specific cultivars that are lower maintenance and longer living than other popular cultivars.
The book also includes a variety of garden plans that give specific plant combinations based on color schemes (the plans are actually based on famous works of art). These can be combined or multiplied for larger gardens, though Roy recommends starting small and expanding in subsequent years. I have the perfect area in which to incorporate a garden using this method. The only issue I can see with these plans are finding the specific cultivars mentioned, sometimes it’s difficult to find specific varieties in the land of big box store greenhouses.
Have you read any great gardening books this summer?