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Plant Partners
Creative plant combinations

Anna Pavord
Published by Dorling Kindersley
Distributed by Penguin
Reviewed by Carl Minchin

GOOD companions are crucial to good gardening. In the veggie garden they keep bugs at bay: in the flower garden they turn drabness or daub into delight. This book is about the latter.

"The whole point of gardening," pens British garden writer Anna Pavord, "is to think about our plants' needs and then, by placing them in good company, to make them shine as brightly as they are able."

Pavord chooses 60 star perennials and for each offers two companions, her "supporting cast", to accompany them in the border. The combinations are given season by season and Pavord's forthright choices are underpinned by her dictum: "Flowers Need Foliage".

Pavord hammers home that leaves are "vastly more important in creating satisfying and enduring planting schemes than flowers".

The first question to be asked when you fall for a floral beauty in the garden centre is, "What will this look like without its flowers?"

Pavord exhorts the gardener to live dangerously and experiment; sometimes her palette has a boho streak the more conservative among us will blanch at.

Yet who could fail to be reawakened by her autumn combination of teasel (Dipsacus fullonum), cosmos and that "gallumpher" of our northern gardens, Japanese anemone - or wowed by the high-summer brightness of daisies: copper-red helenium, fiery euphorbia and blazing yellow coreopsis.

So if you're groping to mix and match, look no farther afield. Opinionated this brilliantly illustrated book may be, but it's a great starting point for a spring review of our gardens.

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: March 1, 2021