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Reviews of Southern Living Garden Book: The Complete Encyclopedia of More Than 5,000 Southern Plants

Good Rating
Book Profile
Green Star: Good! Southern Living Garden Book: The Complete Encyclopedia of More Than 5,000 Southern Plants is a Bookworm 20 book. Green Star: Good!

Author (1): Steve Bender

Softcopy edition:
Publish date: January 2004
Published by: Oxmoor House, Inc.
List price: $34.95
ISBN Number: 0376039108



  Garden Bookworm editor's notes:  
From the back cover
*The first comprehensive gardening encyclopedia dedicated to the South
*More than 5,000 plant listings keyed to full-color Southern Living climate map
*26 unique Plant Selection Guides help you find th eright plant for every need
*Thousands of color photos, illustrations, and how-to diagrams
*Special focus on Southern natives and heritage plants
*Practical hints, tips, and old-fashioned wisdom for your Southern garden

  Feedback History and Summary  
28 positives
No neutrals
No negatives


Positive joannspearsrn On May 22, 2017, joannspearsrn wrote:

Got it for $5 from Amazon, used. Best garden money I ever spent.

Positive Fires_in_motion On Mar 21, 2017, Fires_in_motion wrote:

This is a no-brainer purchase for any Southern gardener. I like books with tons of data and very tiny font sizes, so this one (like most books by British publisher DK) is up my alley. I must point out that I originally owned a copy that had dozens of pages missing somewhere near the middle or 2/3 of the way in. Once I got a copy without missing pages, I donated my slimmer one to my local library. But be sure to check yours thoroughly before buying.

Positive chas045 On May 28, 2013, chas045 wrote:

No one appears to have mentioned that this compendium is almost completely identical in format to the Sunset National Garden Book and the original venerated west coast Sunset Western Garden Book that began in 1967. A dog-eared copy of the Western Garden Book will be found on the counter in every garden center at least in the SF Bay Area where Sunset Magazine began.

Those who appreciate the Sunset books will find a familiar format with improved plant drawings and the same fine detailed information.

Positive GingerGaia On Feb 19, 2013, GingerGaia wrote:

It really is the bible for southern gardeners.I've worn out 2 copies, gifted copies and brought one to the nursery where I worked to help my customers. If you garden in the south this is one book needed above all others.

Positive themikesmom On Aug 22, 2011, themikesmom wrote:

Very Wonderful book, truely is an indespensable bible of knowledge for southern plant species. my son absolutely loves this book too infact he's the one who showed it to me. For anyone who loves gardening and lives in the Southeastern United States..even transplant northerners like myself, will absolutely love this book and find it essential reading material. Great to relax and look through just for leisure, you can always find some more info in it not yet absorbed or read. So if you find yourself at a Lowes or Homedepot more than once looking at this thing, than just force yourself to make the investment and cough up the funds and buy it already!!! well worth the cost.

Positive themikeman On Feb 2, 2011, themikeman wrote:

Very Neat book, not only wonderful accurate pictures of plant and flower species of most plants here in the southeast, but very very detailed growing info for each plant during each season, this book is just thick with info and although a little bit expensive for a garden reference its huge and worth the investment if you enjoy gardening in this southern region of the united states, you wont just find this book useful once or twice, you will get hours and hours of pleasure and enjoyment and knowledge gained out of it. you can pick your copy up at most Lowes or Homedepot stores, in their book and guide Dept., and save yourself shipping as well.. peace..mike. :-)

Positive bungalow1056 On Apr 25, 2010, bungalow1056 wrote:

The Southern Living Garden Book is my personal "gardening bible". It is absolutely, hands down, without doubt, the best reference for southern gardening in print.

Positive downeastgarden On Mar 21, 2010, downeastgarden wrote:

If you buy only one gardening book and you live in The South, then this is the book to buy.

Positive VA_Wild_Rose On Jun 15, 2009, VA_Wild_Rose wrote:

Not only do I own the first edition of this wonderful book, but I immediately bought the second edition when it came into print! I believe this to be the most complete gardening book ever compiled! It's only a shame that it only covers the south and lower mid-atlantic regions of the country. A must have for any gardener living from Texas to Maryland... no matter what your gardening style or preference.

Positive nangardens On Jun 10, 2009, nangardens wrote:

I checked this book out from the library before purchasing it; it is a very good reference for any Southern-based gardener. The beginning of the book explains their ratings; one useful feature is the additon of heat zone maps (from American Horticultural Society)--which I find a useful supplement to the Plant Hardiness zones. The book contains many useful lists for plant selection, and then a comprehensive listing of various Plants and some of the cultivars--of course not comprehensive in some cases. Good information about how to successfully grow these plants accompany drawings of each plant. You'll need another book if you want a color picture of each plant.

Positive Nansea27 On Jan 27, 2009, Nansea27 wrote:

My heavy use of this excellent book, began to wear on the spine and a few pages came loose. So, I took them all out, punched them with a three hole punch and put them into a notebook binder. I find it much easier to use as well as I can remove a page if I want to make copies. It works for me!!

Positive DriftingDude On Jan 22, 2008, DriftingDude wrote:

This is one gardening book I continually referenced for information pertaining to my area. A very useful reference guide.

Positive tompope On Jan 14, 2008, tompope wrote:

For anyone interested in doing any gardening or landscaping in the American South, I really believe that this is the single book that I would recommend over all others. It strikes a wonderful balance between being technical and scientific while still being approachable, and between the intrinsic qualities of an individual plant, and the way that plant fits into a landscape. Comprehensive but not overhwelming. Joust terrific. A particularly useful tool for the millions of people who have moved to the South from somewhere else and needs a primer on the climate and conditions and the fascinatingly diverse plant palette available here. The only negative is that some of the drawings used to illustrate plants are unclear, and others are just plain inaccurate. And its use of a combination of standard AHS heat zones and also Southern Living's own climate zone system can take a little getting used to, but works well once you become accustomed to them. An invaluable, beautiful book that achieves that rare feat of being both informative and fun. Literally every time I pick it up, I'm re-inspired to do more cool things in my yard. A bargain at twice the price!

Positive hardyinokc On Feb 1, 2006, hardyinokc wrote:

This has been my most used gardening book for years (both the first & second editions). Most information seems to be correct. I do wish it had more plants listed (such as many that are listed in the National Gardening Book) and I wish it had more color pictures. I heartily recommend this book to ANYONE in the southern part of the country. JUST BUY IT!

Positive vossner On Oct 7, 2005, vossner wrote:

should be a staple in every southern gardener's library

Positive trackinsand On Oct 2, 2005, trackinsand wrote:

this is by far the best book for the south. it not only has just about every plant you could ever want, it gives varieties as well. in addition, it tells you how to care for them. i wouldn't be without it. if you don't have this book, i highly advise that you get it asap!

On November 16th, 2010, trackinsand added the following:

five years or so since i left a comment and this book is still number one for me. i refer to it constantly and it never lets me down...the gardener\'s bible if ever there was one.
don\'t let the \"southern\" part of the name stop you from buying it just because you don\'t live in the deep south. this even covers areas into missouri....indispensable!!!!
Positive recycle_man On Aug 15, 2005, recycle_man wrote:

I purchased the The Southern Garden Book (1st printing Feb 1998) from SAM's club a few years ago for $18.45 and loved all 512 pages. When the 1st printing revised edition came out with 720 pages, I loved it even more even although the price increased to ($20.23). I even bought an extra or two as gifts for my gardening friends. Southern Garden Book has been my bible for plant/garden information.

Positive rainycz On Jun 8, 2005, rainycz wrote:

This book has been very, very helpful to me. I moved from zone 6 to zone 7. It has been a bigger change than I would have imagined. I refer to this book constantly to learn what will work best in this area.

Positive capwest28 On Jun 8, 2005, capwest28 wrote:

This is the best reference book I have found for all-around information on plants for the South. It has variety specific recommendations that helps you select those that will flourish in your area. It touches on many areas: heat zone ratings, practical hints, tips and old-fashioned wisdom, Plant selection guides. More than 7,000 plant listings keyed to Southern Living climate zone maps. A must for learning about the south!!!

Positive marjoriess On May 9, 2005, marjoriess wrote:

It's incredibly useful to have a plant encyclopedia that specifically addresses how a plant will behave in my climate. When I read more generic plant descriptions, I constantly have to remind myself - it might bloom earlier here, it might need more shade here, it might not survive the summer here, etc.

Positive Magwar On Apr 25, 2005, Magwar wrote:

This is an excellent book. I live in Georgia and this book has helped me out so many times! I recommend this book to any southern gardener that is starting out. It helps!

Positive MDREAMS01 On Dec 8, 2004, MDREAMS01 wrote:

I have had this book for awhile and it is my right arm, amust for southern Gardeners. I visited a nursery a while back and she was showing us something in her most used book and she swears by this book . Great Book to own!!

Positive Osteole On Nov 13, 2004, Osteole wrote:

I purchased this book and the companion "Garden Problem Solver" a few years before I became a serious gardener. Superb book, I would recommend it to anyone.

Positive JenniferG On Nov 7, 2004, JenniferG wrote:

I LOVE this book (and the earlier edition)! It is the best reference book for the southern gardener! It lists 7,000 plants and actually recomends individual varieties for specific zones. I've found it to be a great aid in designing, planning and maintaining my garden.

Positive Fleurs On Nov 2, 2004, Fleurs wrote:

The 2004 edition is an indispensable guide to gardening in the warmer zones that is helpful to novice and more experienced gardeners alike. Remarkably thorough.

Positive berrygirl On Feb 9, 2004, berrygirl wrote:

This was one of my first gardening books as well. I am waiting with baited breath til my copy of the new updated version arrives. It is probably my fave gardening book still. A must-have for those trying to garden in the temperamental south. I had no idea of the huge differences in climates of the South until I read this book- and I'm a native of Ga. I highly recommend this book.

Positive Copperbaron On Feb 9, 2004, Copperbaron wrote:

An indispensable book for southern gardeners, particularly ones new to the gardening realm. One of my earliest gardening books, and still one of the best for southern climes. There is a new revised edition as of 2004 with thousands of new plants added to the plant descriptions.

Positive Terry On Jan 29, 2004, Terry wrote:

The Southern Living Garden Book was one of my first garden book purchases over a decade ago. It's now a dog-eared resident of my handiest bookshelf, maintaining its spot among the dozens of gardening books I've collected since.

At that time, I was a casual, weekend gardener, and I found this book helpful in many ways. The photos inspired me to be more adventuresome in trying new plants and landscaping projects, and having advice specific to my specific climate zone was especially helpful, since most other gardening books I came across were written by gardeners whose plants didn't have to cope with dense clay soil and regular freezes without benefit of insulating snow.

In the years since then, I've become a more serious gardener, and I moved 750 miles eastward. I've had to come to grips with the fact that gardening in Oklahoma's zone 7 ("upper south" in Southern Living's maps) was very different from gardening in what this book refers to as the "middle south" in middle Tennessee. Instead of being milder, our winters are more like zone 6 than 7 here. And without that constant breeze, plant diseases flourish more readily here, posing a new set of problems to contend with.

I've outgrown the book in many ways, but I still like thumbing through it every now and again. I also lend it out to friends who are just getting started gardening, or need some basic advice. All in all, the Garden Handbook is still a solid starting point for any new gardener, or any gardener new to gardening in the South.

It contains a nice selection of photos of plants that meet various criteria (landscaping plants for color, perennials for shade or sun, etc.) Its encylopedia of plants is arranged alphabetically by botanical names, which frustrated me as a novice, but I now fully appreciate. It also contains a hefty dictionary of gardening terms and their meanings, including advice for pest control and fertilizing with organic and non-organic amendments.

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