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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase


Knowledgebase record #137


The Gardener's Color Palette by Tom Fischer, 2010

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2011-10-01

The Gardener's Color Palette at first glance is a pretty book, but I was prepared to dismiss it as having little information of consequence. However, like with most books, it is important to read the author's introduction. Tom Fischer's second sentence summarizes his intent: "Flowers are nature's most direct and accessible route to enjoying the pure pleasures of color."

As an experienced gardener, I was already familiar with almost all of the one hundred flowers (mostly herbaceous perennials) profiled. I know their size, habits, foliage, texture, and even fragrance, or lack of one. And color, of course. Or so I thought. Fischer, and the superb photographs of Clive Nichols, invites you to isolate color from all other qualities.

This is best done on the beginning page of each of the ten color groups, with thumbnail style, tight close-ups of the full view examples that follow. Here, the shape of the flower is gone; all that is left is the color. It's quite a change in perspective.

The text gives a brief but insightful and often witty description of each plant, but the most valuable advice is for suggested companions, complimentary color ranges, or little gems like this entry on joe-pye weeds: "Their pinks and purples have a slightly dusty quality, which isn't necessarily a drawback; in fact, a hot fuchsia joe-pye weed would be terrifying--what on earth would you do with it?"

Excerpted from the Fall 2011 Arboretum Bulletin.


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