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Part travelogue, part inspiration, and part practical gardening guide, this innovative book is certain to turn orthodox views of the garden upside down. Few who seek excitement and drama in their gardening will regret accompanying Peter Thompson into the looking-glass garden.
To the eyes of traditional gardeners, the plants and gardens of the Southern Hemisphere seem to spring directly from the pages of Lewis Carroll. Colours are brighter, shapes more exotic, and names unfamiliar: boobiallas, cockies tongues, lion’s ears, and quandongs, to name but a few. Although the floras of countries as diverse as South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile are strikingly different, the plants within them are surprisingly complementary. They offer adventurous gardeners a series of palettes, forms, textures, and effects that are unparalleled in the familiar, comfortable garden offerings of the North. Just as Alice passed through the looking-glass to a world where nothing was as expected, Peter Thompson’s looking-glass garden leads readers into a world of unfamiliar plants and exciting possibilities, if only gardeners will make the most of them.
A thorough review of this vast array of Southern Hemisphere plants would take many volumes, and the author quite sensibly focuses on the role these dramatic plants can play in gardens. Touching on nearly 1500 plants in all, he emphasizes garden situations and garden categories, and seeks to dispel the notion that these “foreign” plants are unreasonably difficult to grow. Indeed, he explains that gardeners in difficult situations may benefit from the ability of many plants to thrive despite drought, low soil fertility, and high temperatures. Case studies and comprehensive lists of hardiness zones provide further guidance for using Southern Hemisphere plants in cooler, more frost-prone areas. Above all, Thompson seeks to extend every gardener’s range of garden plants and to make us all think differently about how to use them in our gardens.
451 pp, 151 color photos, 4 maps, 6 x 9", hardcover ISBN: 0-88192-499-7
$39.95, plus shipping and handling
Publication Date: April 2001
The Looking-Glass Garden: