Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Perennial Matchmaker: Book Review and Giveaway


Magic happens when perennials are beautifully combined. Some gardeners just seem to have the creative knack for mixing plants to create pretty combinations, but the vast majority of us need a little help and that's where Nancy J. Ondra's latest book The Perennial Matchmaker comes in. 

This is a book whose practical tips and methods for creating plant pairings move beyond replicating pretty pictures. Drool-worthy pictures of plant combinations are all well and good, but if the plants pictured don't grow well in your garden, or aren't readily available to you, the inspiration is somewhat useless. 

The matchmaking process begins with a plant that is successful for you and builds out from there. Before you can begin to find the perfect partner for a plant, Nan suggests you need to identify a key feature you want to play up. It could be the color of the flower, the color of the foliage or any other attribute that you want to accentuate.

A combination from the book The Perennial Matchmaker: Allium Globemaster with Geranium macrorrhizum. (c) 2016 Nancy J. Ondra. Used with the permission of the publisher Rodale Books.


The Perennial Matchmaker showcases 80 popular perennials. There is a basic profile of each plant  
focusing on its key characteristics with notes on suggested partnerships based on color, shape and texture, and seasonal features. 

Of course when choosing the perfect partner not all the considerations are purely aesthetic. Some benefits are more practical. For instance, with alliums like the ones pictured above, Nan suggests that low mounded plants can help to disguise the yellowing foliage of alliums whose flowers have faded. 

Each perennial chapter also includes a handy list of potential "Bloom Buddies" that are likely to flower at the same time. 

Nancy's book offers the novice gardener ready-to-go ideas in of photographs of perennial partners and Nan's "Top 10 Perennial Pairings." For the more experienced gardener, there are chapters on how to find inspiration, tips for working with color, ideas for to adding seasonal interest and even ways of extending plant combinations beyond simply mixing perennials.

I must confess that my views on this book are not entirely unbiased. I, along with many other photographers and bloggers, contributed images to the book. It may surprise you to know that the photographs are my one minor disappointment with the book. There is some gorgeous photography in The Perennial Matchmaker, but most of the images are small. 

I have a feeling that the small photographs are intensional. I think Nan does not want readers limited to copying combinations they see in pictures. She wants to arm her readers with the tools and ideas necessary to create their own magical combinations.

I have a copy of The Perennial Matchmaker that I am going to give away in a draw. If you would like to enter, please leave a comment below. For this draw, I will have to limit a winner to North America. The draw will remain open for the next seven days.

More Information and Links:


About the author: Nancy J. Ondra is the author of more than a dozen books on gardening. As well as more than thirty years of gardening experience, she has owned and operated a rare plant nursery. Nan writes about Hayefield, her four acre property County Pennsylvania, on the blog hayefield.com. As well as The Perennial Matchmaker, Nan has a second book, Container Theme Gardensthat is newly released this spring.

47 comments:

  1. I'd love to be entered in the drawing for this lovely book! I can be reached at pingreeparkgardens@gmail.com if needed. Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Consider your name entered. Good luck!

      Delete
  2. Count me in! I need inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll enter your name Annie. Best of luck!

      Delete
  3. As we plan a new garden in this new-old cottage (enormous fir tree being removed next week) I am looking for new ways to make up beds/combinations. Please count me in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will do Pondside! Hope your weather on the west coast is warmer than it has been here. Good luck!

      Delete
  4. I could use some inspiration, too. Thank you for the chance to win!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I feel lucky...I love gardening books full of inspiring ideas for my gardens. Will you announce the winner on your page?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always post the winner on the blog a few days to a week (if I'm super busy) after the draw closes. Good luck!

      Delete
  6. Congrats on your photos being published in this book! Of course I'm not surprised because you have such incredible photos and a talent for photographing great color combinations. I like the idea that this book gives you tools to create your own plant pairings. Too often books show plant combinations that don't grow in my zone or bloom at different times in my garden so I could never recreate what they show. With this knowledge I could find what works for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Karin. I think nan wrote the book with your sentiments in mind.

      Delete
  7. Excellent review, Jennifer. I have my own copy so don't need to be entered for the drawing,thank you. Love all of her many gardening books, and as she is located in Pennsylvania, I can easily apply her recommendations to my own PA garden. I am one of the many bloggers with photographs in this one. She did a great job. P. x

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the chance to win this book. It sounds like a wonderful resource for those of us that are always tweaking and moving plants around and looking for new combinations. And kudos to you for having photos in it! Sounds like a book I might have to purchase if I don't win it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Karen! I am forever moving plants around as well. Good luck!

      Delete
  9. I've been following Nancy on her blog/website for at least 3 years now, I would love to own a copy...:)
    How will you get a hold the winner?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually put a mention in my posts asking that readers make sure that I have a link that leads me to an email address, but I forget this time. I don' t see a email address for you, so can you please watch for the announcement of the winner a few days after the draw closes? I always title the post "And the winner is..." Good luck!

      Delete
  10. Love her blog and other books....this will be a must on my list. Thanks for the giveaway Jennifer.

    ReplyDelete
  11. More inspiration for perennial pairings is always a good thing. I love Nan Ondra's website and her Pinterest pages are pretty awesome, too! I'd love to get a copy of her new book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nan's garden is an inspiration and her posts are always full of great information. Good luck Margie!

      Delete
  12. i've been following your blog and hers for some time now, and love the photography on both - each post you put up is a helpful little book in itself. would love to win her book - thanks for the giveaway and happy gardening. still too chill and damp to do much here. --suz in northeast ohio (farmprint@yahoo.com)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks suz! Good luck and thanks for leaving the email address.

      Delete
  13. Combining plants well is the secret to having a beautiful garden. Thank you for offering this chance to win this great book.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I would love to be entered. I have a lot to learn!!! Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am in the process of designing my backyard garden. I would love this book; I need all the help I can get!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I would love a copy of this book. How lovely of you to offer the chance. mcsawyerj2@att.net

    ReplyDelete
  17. Recently moved onto a 6 acre farm with plenty of work to do! This book would come in so handy! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow 6 acres of farmland! That must keep you busy. Best of luck in the draw!

      Delete
  18. Wow, this book sounds like exactly what I am looking for to help understand great planting partners. Please add me to the drawing. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow what a super idea! Please count me in as well. Congrats on having some of your lovely pics included in the book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris! I'll add your name into the draw box. Best of luck!

      Delete
  20. Novice or experienced gardener, I think this book will be a great addition to your library! Thanks for the opportunity!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Replies
    1. I'll add your name to the draw. Best of luck Kristen!

      Delete
  22. Hello Jennifer,

    I am a new fan of your stunning blog. My name is Petra, and I garden in beautiful Vancouver, B.C. I have obsessively gone through almost all of your posts, and have fallen in love with your garden, which is similar in style to mine. English cottage, I guess. Anyways, I am going out of my mind trying to track down the two roses I just love in your garden: Ballerina, and Marjorie Fair. I have scoured Canadian Rose growers, and nothing. So frustrating! Nobody carries them! Then, I went and looked at a few American growers, and of course they have these two, as does David Austin Roses in England. David Austin is expensive, and the American growers don’t ship here.

    Any advice?

    have a wonderful day, and know that I really enjoy all your posts, ESPECIALLY those of your own beautiful garden!

    Petra

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Petra, It is so nice to hear that you have enjoyed my blog posts and garden. One of these days I hope to get out to the west coast to visit and photograph some of B.C.'s wonderful private gardens.
      About the roses... 'Marjorie Fair' is stunning. I get more questions about that rose than any other. People always think it is an unusual hydrangea. I got it from Pickering Nursery who specialize in bare root roses (they used to ship across Canada). They were always good quality plants for a reasonable price. Sadly the owner passed away about a year ago. His son was thinking of carrying on the business, but wasn't sure he could keep it going. I am travelling at the moment, so I have limited internet access. If you want to email me, I'll check when I get home.The 'Ballerina' may be easier to find. 'Mozart' is similar but a deeper rose. My address is jenc_art@hotmail.com.

      Delete
  23. Looks like the perfect book to help me with some re-vision in my garden. Love your blog -- the pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for the opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Nancy Ondra's books and blog are all wonderful, a great gardener. This would be a delight to win, thank you for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Would love to win this. I'm a new gardener (this is my second year) and I'm excited to get a few more additions. I think this book would be a great resource

    ReplyDelete
  26. whew, just in time, I found this blog and am reading through now. I'd love a gardening book to read!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hello, I was wondering if you picked a winner for this book, I'm not sure if I missed it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So sorry! I forgot to publish the winning announcement when I put up the hosta collectable post. I promise to put up the announcement tomorrow along with a new post on containers.

      Delete
  28. Thanks ever so much for the review, Jennifer. I agree with you that it's a bit disappointing that the photos were on the small size. It wasn't my choice, but it was kind of my fault: The book's designer did her best to fit in as many photos as possible without having to cut text. That's one reason I created to photo galleries on Pinterest, so folks could see the photos in a much larger size. Anyway, it was great to see the enthusiastic response for the giveaway!
    -Nan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy to have the opportunity to review your book Nan. I think The Perennial Matchmaker is a excellent reference for mixing plants. I hope people will check out the photos on your Pinterest page for further inspiration.

      Delete

I love to hear from you. Thanks for leaving a comment.