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Book Review: Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?

Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?
255 Extraordinary Alternatives to Everyday Problem Plants
by Andrew Keys

Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?

340 pages
Timber Press, 2012
List price: $24.95

If there's one thing that nearly all gardeners have in common, it's that we try to grow things that we know darn well aren't suited for our gardens. There are various reasons why we do this, but mostly it's because we see a plant that we love and we want it. It's sort of like falling in love with someone that we know isn't good for us, but we can't help ourselves, even when we know that down the road we're likely to part ways. We think with our heart and not our heads. Don't we all have "favorite mistakes?"

Andrew Keys has help for us. Not for the human kind - you're on your own there - but he's written a book that suggests other choices when it comes to choosing plants for our gardens. Why Grow That When You Can Grow This? takes a look at those plants that we've had, we have, or we want, for which there are alternatives that may work better.

Be prepared to change your way of thinking though, because sometimes he suggests plants that do not give the same appearance as the one it's supposed to replace. Still, if there’s something you can't grow, it’s good to have choices that have been deemed suitable alternatives.

There are some plants which he declares to be problems, that for me (and possibly for you), simply aren't, by virtue of my location and particular growing conditions. But there are still some great possibilities that I never would have considered had he not brought them to my attention. It's nice to have this as a source book for choosing plants for my garden when I'm tired of pandering to something I already have or I'm simply ready for a change. Andrew's book can be a help towards gardening smarter, not harder!

Andrew Keys is a writer, designer, consultant, and lifelong gardener. The host and producer of Fine Gardening's Garden Confidential podcast, his writing has appeared in Fine Gardening and other magazines, as well as on his blog, Garden Smackdown.

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