What a terrific book! I received my copy today and stayed up way too late reading much of it. The photography is fantastic and great eye candy, but even better is the engaging and refreshing text. Armitage is not bound my snobbery in plant selection, and I like the balance in his recommendations. The depth of coverage on selected plants is quite amazing and can be a valuable guide in selecting specific cultivars of a desired plant. As an example, there are 11 pictures of various Cleome's, and good discussion of the older cultivars as well as new entries such as Sparkler and Linde Armstrong--which I found very helpful. Reading his discussion of Celosia's was also fun; and his guidance on what grows best in containers is spot on. Growing information is included, but I expect that there is even more detail in the accompanying volume (Manual of Annuals, Biennials and Half-Hardy Perennials). I compared this to Larry Hodgson's book, and ended up buying both because I could purchase Hodgson's inexpensively, but if I could only choose one set of books it would be Armitage's.
This is an unusual A-Z encyclopedia of annuals. Unusual because Armitage's text is truly funny and very informal and subjective. Also because it contains a limited selection of plants with *lots* of pictures of each one (seriously, about 15-25 per plant). The pages contain mostly pictures and very little text. The pictures seem to come from Armitage's visits to various public gardens across the country, and are quite nice. An enjoyable and useful reference. My only complaint is that the information is heavily slanted toward southern climates, and also toward plants used in corporate/municipal/public park types of plantings rather than home gardens. But definitely an entertaining read and an informative reference, especially for all the pictures comparing multiple cultivars of the same plant.
Armitage is my hero! I love this book! It's informative and very enlightening and his writing style is so entertaining. Several times I laughed out loud while reading through his plant descriptions. And just in case you're "one of those" when it comes to annuals you should know that he covers so much more than just the accepted idea of what an annual really is. Definitely a must have for any serious gardener's shelves!