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Perennials: The Gardener's Reference

By Susan Carter, Carrie Becker, and Bob Lilly

Photographs by Lynne Harrison

Foreword by Ann Lovejoy

Encyclopedic yet concise, witty and drop-dead gorgeous. ... This book will not only entertain and educate you, it will save you money, time, and frustration.


Perennials play a central role in today's gardens. Choosing specific plants, however, can be daunting. Is this plant hardy in my area? How big does it get? When does it bloom? Perennials: The Gardener's Reference answers these and many other questions for more than 2,700 species and cultivars in 250 genera, making it one of the most comprehensive guides available. The informative text is enlivened throughout by the authors' wide-ranging experience with perennials and by Lynne Harrison's sumptuous photographs. Whether you're a beginning gardener, a seasoned expert, or a green-industry professional, Perennials: The Gardener's Reference will be the book you turn to again and again for essential information about these supremely beautiful and useful plants.

Awards for this book: Garden Writers Association Gold Award

Media reviews

"Encyclopedic yet concise, witty and drop-dead gorgeous. ... This book will not only entertain and educate you, it will save you money, time, and frustration with its snappy prescriptions for what to select, which companions to group it with, where to plant it and how to make it thrive with a minimum of effort. ... Feels so smart, welcoming and celebratory that I can't wait for spring."

—Sarah E. Smith, Oregonian

"Those who love flowery landscapes will happily devour [this book]. ... The luscious photographs by Lynne Harrison bring this outstanding reference to life. ... These pages hold a treasure-trove of specific information about less common perennials rarely mentioned even in reference books of this type."

—Ann Lovejoy, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Salient details on selecting, planting, and nurturing more than 2700 species and cultivars of herbaceous perennials are packed into this richly illustrated volume of gardening wisdom. ... Gardeners are certain to find this an invaluable source. An essential reference tool; recommended for all public libraries."

—Donna L. Davey, Library Journal

"A tome of a hardback, packed with charts, photos, and detailed techniques, a reference you'll turn to again and again throughout the seasons."

—Valerie Easton, Seattle Times

"Use this book to identify new and outstanding performers. Then just Google their names to find mail order sources. It's never been so easy to get the best garden plants!"

—Carol Stocker, Boston Globe

"For the serious and experienced gardener — the kind who can handle a book organized by plant families and botanical names."

—Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune

"Of course it is a perfect fit for gardeners of the maritime Northwest, but the on-the-job commentaries make this book useful to gardeners in almost any temperate climate."

—Brian Thompson, Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin

"Supersedes all other books on the subject currently residing on the shelf. The practical hands-on advice is inspiring and refreshing."

—Dan Hinkley, Pacific Horticulture

"This comprehensive guide ... provides easy-to-access information on plant hardiness, soil and sun preferences, bloom time, propagation, pests, and more. For each entry, one of the gardeners weighs in with his or her personal advice on the plant, based on years of experience. Always this advice is useful, and often its entertaining, too. ... This book is a keeper!"

—Barbara Lloyd McMichael, Kitsap Sun

"This is the book that Northwest gardeners have been asking for and at long last it is here. Written by three esteemed Northwest gardeners that have world wide fame ... [it is] the perennial information guide. ... Whether you're a beginner, an expert, or a professional, you will turn to this book time and again for essential information."

—Scott Conner, AM1090Seattle.com

"It's a good sign when you open a plant encyclopedia and the first plant is one of the best. ... As gardeners, we've scored with this book."

—Kym Pokorny, Homes + Gardens Northwest

"A well-illustrated, extensive encyclopedia of herbaceous perennials that can be successfully grown in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the continental U.S."

—B.K. Lym, Choice

"The best source for instructions on which plant needs dividing when in our unique climate."

—Valerie Easton, Seattle Times

"The most encompassing and practical directory of perennials. ... With descriptions of over 2,700 species and cultivars, this exhaustive work will be useful for both beginning gardeners and weathered experts."

—John Bagnasco, Garden Compass

"If you like to go to the garden center with a good idea about which plants will do best in your garden, this volume on herbaceous perennials — it includes 2,700 plants in 250 genera — is one that belongs up there with Michael Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants."

—Richard Churchill, People Places Plants

"I highly recommend this book to every gardener who ever thought of buying a perennial plant — because if we all followed the advice found on these pages, every garden would be beautifully maintained and blooming year-round."

—Marianne Binetti, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Seattle-based gardeners Carter, Carrie Becker, and Bob Lilly have co-authored a practical A–Z guide to perennials that gardeners will find both stimulating and easy to use."

SciTech Book News

"A well-illustrated, comprehensive guide to perennials. ... I particularly like the personal comments by the authors interspersed throughout the text."

—Ethel Fried, Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer

"A must-have reference manual. It has a special chapter on plants for special gardens, which is extremely helpful."

—Linda Cobb, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

"Hurry and get yourself a copy of Perennials: The Gardener's Reference. You won't regret it."

—Karen Preuss, Northwest Garden News

"Beautiful enough for a table-top book with stunning photographs by Lynne Harrison. ... The individual genera are beautifully illustrated as well."

—Linda Urbaniak, Mercer Island Reporter

"An accessible, information-packed treasury of garden-worthy plants. ... This book is an appealing new acquaintance which appears quite likely to grow into a very best friend."

—Kelly Sundberg Seaman, BookPage

"Finally, in one comprehensive book, find the best time to deadhead, cut back, divide, transplant, and fertilize (or not fertilize) over 2,700 perennial species. ... Provides all the important cultural information on each perennial, plus personal commentary about plant habits."

—Maia Eisen, Tacoma East King Trailhead

About the authors

Susan Carter

Susan Carter is a garden and landscape designer in Seattle, Washington, with 25 years of experience in various areas of horticulture.

Read more about Susan Carter

Carrie Becker

Carrie Becker is a professional gardener, landscape designer, consultant, and educator. One of the original designers of the Northwest Perennial Alliance Borders at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, she has gardened in Seattle for more than 40 years.

Read more about Carrie Becker

Bob Lilly

Bob Lilly, another of the original designers of the internationally acclaimed Northwest Perennial Alliance Borders, now works as a plant broker selling perennials to wholesale growers.

Read more about Bob Lilly

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