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Book Review: All the Garden's a Stage

All the Garden’s a Stage: Choosing the Best Performing Plants for a Sustainable Garden
by Jane C. Gates

All the Garden's a Stage

144 pages
Schiffer, 2012
List price: $29.99

With so many books available to beginning and veteran gardeners that give basic and intermediate information, it can be confusing to choose one that’s a right fit for you. All the Garden’s a Stage takes a clever approach to guiding your growing with sustainability in mind. If you think of your garden as a production, with you as its director, this book can be the script that helps you turn your yard into a thing of beauty.

Following Gates’ simple instructions, she takes the sometimes confusing mystery out of choosing plants that still leave you with free time for other pursuits. After overviews of the different types of plants and their basic needs, design principles are explained. Using this information, you can make informed choices while creating your landscape. The second half of the book consists of plant profiles, with identifying photos of each plant.

Perhaps this is a personal point, but I suspect others may feel the same: In the plant profiles section, no USDA Zones are listed. Gates explains that she didn’t include them in each plant’s description so as to not disappoint gardeners who think they will be successful at growing say, a Zone 5 plant in Zone 5. I would have preferred that she had provided the recommended USDA Zones for each plant, with a reminder to gardeners that just because a plant is listed as hardy for their zone doesn’t necessarily mean that will be the gardener’s actual experience. Now, if you want to know if a listed plant is generally hardy for your zone, you have to go look it up elsewhere.

Jane Gates is an award-winning landscape designer, a prolific garden columnist, a writer of stories, training programs and song lyrics and has shown her art in galleries all over the world. Her belief is that learning keeps us alive and being alive is a gift to be shared. She can be found at

Read more garden book reviews.
Read Kylee Baumle’s blog, Our Little Acre.