From the opening of The Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Garden as Sally Roth describes gardening with her mother, to the index tucked in the back, this book oozes garden knowledge. I think these lines best set the tone (page 9), “Every year, her flower beds got bigger, and the lawn got smaller. Meanwhile, I absorbed the art of gardening, and the how-tos of transplanting, dividing, and otherwise making more of a good thing.” As her mother patiently instructed Roth and fostered a love of gardening, so through this book the author shares the lifetime of gardening knowledge and experience she has amassed.

The Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Garden focuses on plant selection, garden design and presentation rather than technical items such as soil preparation or composting. The author shares design tips and recommends plant combinations along with help for challenging garden sites such as sidewalk strips, entrances, and property lines.

Although the book’s title may be directed toward those embarking on the pleasures of gardening for the first time, this work is for gardeners of all experience levels. Side bars offer a wealth of information, some intended to keep gardeners from making huge mistakes like planting pampas grass. Oh, if those in my neighborhood who loved their pampas grass thirty years ago but hate it now had only known! The text is ripe with stunning photos and Roth’s husband, Matthew Bartmann, is credited with most of the photography work. (Nice job, sir!)

Readers will find lists galore including the best perennials for big-flowers, perennials with long lasting flowers, flowering plants and ground covers for shade, and shrubs grow best from cuttings. The material spotlights flowers and shrubs rather than vegetables and herbs.

If you are a new gardener preparing to plant for the first time or if you are a seasoned plant lover embarking on a remake of an existing bed invest a few evenings with The Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Garden, and let Sally Roth’s guidance help you find success with your project.