Book Review – The Right-Size Flower Garden by Kerry Ann Mendez
By Kerry Ann Mendez
St. Lynn’s Press
Hardcover, 178 pages
Kerry Ann Mendez had beautiful, huge flower gardens and she loved taking care of them with her husband. Then one day he broke his neck. While not paralyzed, his garden tending days were over. Mendez was forced to down size the upkeep in the garden to something she alone could do – and not be overwhelmed by it.
She achieved this by cutting back the size of the beds, and eliminating some of them entirely. She also eliminated a lot of plants and replaced them with ones that had high impact, preferably over more than one season. She replaced perennials with flowering shrubs, especially ones with variegated foliage. She used multiples of the perennials she kept, so that a large section could be tended in one fell swoop. Colorful foliage reigns supreme in her gardens.
High Impact Plants
Mendez includes lists and photos of a lot of the plants she finds to be high impact but low maintenance. There are plants from all categories here: trees, shrubs, perennials, evergreens, roses, annuals, bulbs, vines, and ground covers. Plants are well represented from zone 4 on up to tropicals.
There is no lack of plants for the low maintenance garden and she warns you about the plants that can be a little bit too low maintenance; i.e. the ones that will take over your yard without ever needing a drop of water or fertilizer.
Who Is It For?
The Right-Size Flower Garden is geared more towards novice/intermediate level gardeners, although even experienced gardeners will likely find a few things they hadn’t thought about before.
The book is appropriate for gardeners in all areas of the country. I found most of her advice applicable to me here in the inland northwest, which was something I liked – so many garden books are, like Sunset, aimed more at warmer areas, while others target only one or two regions. The only things those in warmer climes would find not useful in The Right-Size Flower Garden are things like wrapping up evergreens in the winter; most everything else (certainly all the design advice) would work anywhere in the USA and Canada (and probably in other countries as well).
The only thing I found odd about the book is that she points out that the lawn is a water hog and a huge source of pollution (very true) and recommends ground covers or meadows, but when she downsized her own flower beds she laid sod in the bare places. I assume this is because she needed to sell her house and sod looks good immediately but it takes time for meadows or ground covers to get well established.
Whether we need to down size because of age, a new job, injury, a new baby, or just to have more time for other hobbies, Kerry’s advice will help you. Many new gardeners and first time home owners want a good looking yard but don’t want to devote all their free time to it. I’m putting new beds in over the next couple of years, and I’ll be taking her advice on filling them.
The book, while small, has a lot of common sense gardening advice that frequently gets overlooked. It’s the right sized book for the subject; I give it five shovels up!
Where to Buy
The Right-Size Flower Garden is available on Amazon, as well as through select book stores.
And now over to you – What’s your favorite new gardening book? Let us know in the comments below.
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See Our Other Book Reviews
- Essential Perennials: The Complete Reference to 2700 Perennials for the Home Garden by Ruth Rogers Clausen and Thomas Christopher
- The Nonstop Color Garden: Design Flowering Landscapes & Gardens for Year-round Enjoyment by Nellie Neal
- Grow a Little Fruit Tree: Simple Pruning Techniques for Small-Space, Easy-Harvest Fruit Trees by Ann Ralph
Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Kerry Mendez for giving us a free book to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.
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