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Armitage's Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials

By Allan M. Armitage

Illustrations by Asha Kays and Chris Johnson

If you have any serious interest in growing flowers, you need this book.

Newark Star-Ledger

Annuals are experiencing a resurgence as today's gardeners demand a wider variety of options. No longer confined to monotone bedding plants, dozens of "unusual" annuals are now available at garden centers in colors and forms far removed from the classic annual bed of pink petunias or red geraniums.

In the tradition of his classic Herbaceous Perennial Plants, Allan M. Armitage has compiled descriptions and assessments of 245 genera of true annuals as well as plants that behave like annuals in USDA zones 1–7. Focusing on identifying the plants, successful culture, and their primary garden attributes, Armitage discusses 279 species in detail and summarizes the distinguishing features of hundreds of cultivars, many of which he has tested himself. Classics like begonias and pelargoniums are juxtaposed with newcomers from Australia, and all are subject to Armitage's critical eye. Color photos and line drawings illustrate the text, and he suggests additional reading in books, articles, and Web sites for many of the covered genera.

Armitage bases his descriptions on extensive personal experience. His frank and conversational style keeps potentially dry details fresh, and each entry is liberally sprinkled with strong and sometimes amusing opinions. Useful lists in the appendix are further evidence of his expertise, as he compiles biennials, half-hardy perennials, winter annuals, shade-tolerant plants, fragrant plants, climbing plants, and everlastings. These lists extend the volume's application beyond a necessary tool for horticulturists and nurserymen to a practical guide for the dedicated home gardener.

Awards for this book: American Horticultural Society Book Award, Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Book, Garden Writers Association Garden Globe Award, New York Times Editor's Choice - Best Books for Gardening

Media reviews

"A complete book about temporal plants that grow in this region. There are more than 100 photos, but the information is the primary reason to get this tome."

—Joel M. Lerner, Washington Post

"I have yet to see the perfect guide to annuals and tender perennials, but this new compendium by esteemed plantman Allan M. Armitage comes close ... [Gardeners] will need no other reference on the subject."

—Steve Silk, Fine Gardening

"If you have any serious interest in growing flowers, you need this book."

—John Van de Water, Newark Star-Ledger

"Finally, there is a definitive reference for annuals…You will forget you are reading a textbook because of Armitage’s plain and enjoyable banter about the plants he knows so well."

—Joel M. Lerner, Washington Post

"A screaming gap in my garden library shelf has been filled by Armitage's Manual of Annuals, Biennials, and Half-Hardy Perennials. Gardeners have long needed a really comprehensive and affordable encyclopedic reference to plants of brief longevity, and now we have it ... This book–whether you are an experienced gardeners or an intelligent beginner–will make you want to run right out and hammer at the doors of your local nursery or write away madly for every obscure catalog you can find."

—Rand B. Lee, American Gardener

"Describes in great detail the pros and cons of the garden habits of flowering plants that bring color and pleasure to the home landscape, but do not persist as long as we'd wish."

—Georgene Bramlage, Suite101.com

"An excellent tome."

—Winston Dunwell, University of Kentucky HortMemo

"This is one comprehensive resource for the gardner worthy of its name."

—Lynette Walther, Palatka Daily News

"Whether you grow perennials or annuals, if you grow any flowers or foliage in the garden, this should prove an excellent reference and wonderful reading in the evenings."

University of Vermont Extension Book of the Month

"No other book on flowers provides the depth, wisdom, and wit of this one."

—Don Davis, Lynchburg News and Advance

"Casual, personable style."

—Judy Glattstein, Home Monthly

"This is the kind of book in which you'll look up one plant and end up reading about ten more ... It's a treasure trove of information written in a readable style."

Garden Gate

"Armitage's Manual ... is a reader–friendly book all gardeners will understand. The most up–to–date information on the subject can be found here ... this book will become a standard textbook on the subject."

—Marty Figley, Michigan Observer and Eccentric

"Probably one of the best books (tome, actually, at more than 500 pages) on a much needed subject."

—Michael Weishan, GardenworksOnline.com

"Allan's writing has a friendly and almost conversational tone."

—Mary Tucker, Georgia Scoop

"Armitage writes an opinionated, yet refreshingly detailed and meticulous A-to-Z of 279 species and hundreds more cultivars of annuals, biennals, and half-hardy perennials."

SciTech Book News

"Armitage's unique position on the cutting edge of herbaceous plant knowledge makes this new book a must-have for anyone interested in growing annuals, from homeowners to nurserymen ... This new book fills a void that has existed for a very long time by covering the ever-changing world of annuals. Anyone who gardens should want his or her very own copy."

—Bob Souvestre, Baton Rouge Advocate

"The book should appeal to the serious gardener, as well as to those who are eager to learn."

—Suzanne Hively, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Add this annuals bible to your bookshelf."

—Bobbie Schwartz, Buckeye

"One of [the book’s] best features is the Armitage style of writing. He writes in everyday speak with a refreshing sense of humor, and he does not waffle when it comes to his opinions…A great resource for the gardeners who thrive in growing the unusual, as well as those who want and need to stay on top of what’s new in the garden."

—Nancy Szerlag, Detroit News

"A wealth of information available."

—Winston Dunwell, University of Kentucky HortMemo

"The authentic voice of a genuine gardener guides readers through the easy flow of information provided in this A-to-Z compendium ... Excellent throughout, this guide is a rich book for every plant lover."

—Diane M. Calabrese, American Reference Books Annual

"True to form, Armitage's humor accompanies his sage advice throughout the text. I predict that this book will become holy writ on the subject of annuals. And I confess that when it comes to a book written by Allan Armitage, I buy it unhesitatingly for the authority associated with the name and then find out all about the subject within."

—Russell Studebaker, Horticulture

"I’ve been waiting for this book for years. I found the opinionated writing delightful and the coverage of what is available in this category in the marketplace excellent ... A necessary and useful book that will be an indispensable reference for many gardeners."

American Gardener

"Invaluable… It’s compendious, learned and chatty all at once, encyclopedic in coverage of these important plants."

—Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times Book Review

"Whether one lives in the deep South or in an area of frigid winters, there is much to learn from the learned Armitage’s latest effort: a wonderfully written resource chockablock with gardening information. An endearing approach that goes against any form of 'plant snobbery' ensures accessible guidance for all."

—Alice Joyce, Booklist

"Sure to please even the most discriminating plantaholic. Go annuals, go Armitage."

—George Graine, Virginia Master Gardeners Association Report

"A truly authoritative book on annuals (it also includes biennials and half-hardy perennials) ... Armitage's writing style is approachable, friendly, and seasoned with touches of humor."

—Mary Tucker, Greater Atlanta Gardener

"Armitage's ability to pack so much infomation into a book that's such fun to read is testimony to his teaching skills."

—Paula Refi, Perennial Notes

"[This book] is a splendid volume describing more annual garden plants than you or I could imagine ... It's a book which belongs in garden club collections and in every public library."

—Carol Howe, Rockland Courier-Gazette

"A wealth of information."

—Nancy Brachey, Charlotte Observer

"It is written in an accessible, chatty style which is backed by an obviously thorough knowledge."

—Verney Naylor, Compass

"Armitages’s manuals on perennials are among the most useful gardening books on our shelves ... Dip in anywhere, and you’re sure to be entertained as well as informed ... Keep a notebook to hand – you’ll come away with an adventurous plant list."

Gardening Life

"Many entries are accompanied by a delicate line drawing, while the color plates in the center are nothing short of breathtaking. It is the quality of the prose, however, that makes reading this book a joy."

—Susan Clark, E-Streams

"[An] invaluable manual ... Armitage's extensive personal experience brought to life each of the 279 species he describes so beautifully. His descriptions, full of detail, are liberally sprinkled with frank and sometimes amusing opinions which at times had me chuckling with approval."

—Clive Lane, Cottage Gardener

"The best Avant Gardener buy of the season ... Especially valuable for the cultural tips gleaned from the author's long experience."

Avant Gardener

"If you're a serious gardener who knows who Armitage is and knows who tree-and-shrub guru Michael Dirr is, you'll probably be taking this book to bed with you. Actually, anyone who flower-gardens should find this book a useful resource."

—George Weigel, Harrisburg Patriot-News

"This informative and entertaining book by an award-winning garden writer belongs in the collection of all gardeners who want to add some depth and excitement to their plant palates."

—Ethel Fried, Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer

"A companion to Armitage's Garden Perennials."


"This book is one of the few I know which will enable gardeners in California to take advantage of our mild climate. Well written, filled with useful information, it is a book well worth having. It is well worth the price; it will be well used, I assure you, and it is so pleasant to read."

—John E. Bryan, Gardening Newsletter

"Whether you grow perennials or annuals, if you grow any flowers or foliage in the garden, this should prove an excellent reference and wonderful read in the evenings."

University of Vermont Extension Book of the Month

About the author

Allan M. Armitage

Regarded as one of the world's foremost horticulturists, Allan M. Armitage travels as a lecturer and consultant. Charming and lively as well as knowledgeable, Allan is in constant demand as a speaker, and sees working with plants as therapeutic, exciting, and creative.

Read more about Allan M. Armitage

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