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Gardening With Conifers by Adrian Bloom. Firefly Books, 2002. Softcover: $24.95
review written for Perennial Notes, the quarterly journal of the Georgia Perennial Plant Association

Well known plantsman and gardener Adrian Bloom started planting conifers in the early 1960ís in his English garden. He planted over 500 varieties! Along with his son, photographer Richard Bloom, he has produced a rich reference on the subject that would inspire most to include more conifers in their own gardens.

He begins by discussing the ways we can maximize the effectiveness of plant combinations by appreciating the endless variety of conifers and their seasonal changes. These plants, he reminds us, bring differences in foliage color and texture, plant size and shape, cones and, yes, even flowers! Given the diversity they offer, an entire garden can be designed using nothing else.

Bloom uses conifers extensively in his own garden, but makes the most of inter-planting with other trees, shrubs and perennials. The beautifully illustrated text provides numerous examples of garden settings, detailing the conifers and their neighbors. He highlights the advantages of various selections during different seasons.

Over 100 pages are devoted to a detailed review of those conifers with which he is familiar, noting heat tolerance by providing a range of zones ( U.S.)

He realistically states the expected height and width within 10 years, but also notes the ultimate size that could be attained. As he says, few of us need worry about the size in a hundred years and with newer selections, the mature size can only be a guess.

I could easily spend many happy hours planning a fantasy garden of conifers with this book in hand.    I will also turn to it often as a ready reference on one of my favorite companions in the garden.