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Bulb gardening in warmer climates presents challenges unknown in cooler climates. Bulbs that turn Holland into a kaleidoscope of colour droop and fade in mild winters, hot summers, and uncertain rainfall. Yet hundreds of native and naturalised species of bulbs thrive in these same conditions and offer as many colours, shapes, and fragrances as even the most demanding gardener desires. These are the bulbs that Thad Howard describes in this comprehensive guide to bulbs that will grow warmer climates. Writing from more than 45 years' experience in collecting and cultivating bulbs, Howard offers expert advice about hundreds of little-known, hybrid, and common species and varieties that grow well in warm climates. His species accounts, which are grouped by family, describe each plant and its growing requirements and often include interesting stories from his collecting expeditions. Lovely colour photos illustrate many of the species. Howard also gives reliable information about refrigerating bulbs, using them in the landscape and in containers, choosing scented ones, making potpourri, buying, collecting, cultivating, and hybridising bulbs, and dealing with pests and diseases. He concludes with lists of plant societies and suppliers and a helpful glossary and bibliography.
I found this to be a most thorough work on the selection and identification of bulbs available to the southern gardener. An excellent reference that, to the novice, might be overwhelming at first glance...
I'll give a slightly different recommendation for this excellent book which I consider to be the bible for growing/identifying native bulbs in my geographical area. As a person with a degree in science, this is a book I can easily take into the field to use to actually identify native Texas bulbs. Its written in a form much more to my liking than "common field guide to..." style books and gives me the information about which native bulbs I actually might want to add to my personal plant collection/addiction. Although the book also contains non-native bulbs, this is the best book I have seen yet for native bulbs of Texas. Anyone who has a serious interest in native bulbs of Texas will definitely want this book.
For gulf south gardeners, there are two books only which truly address with experience the myriad bulbs, including the tropical ones, that are possible our climate. These two books also tell us which of the "yankee" bulbs are annuals for us, like hybrid tulips, most hybrid narcissus and the gloriously acclaimed bulbs from the Caucasus like the Hyacinths, Frittilarias and Crocus. Fortunately, these two books compliment each other because Scott Ogden's classic, Garden Bulbs for the South, is strong on the joy of experiencing the bulbs we can grow, but is short on helping to identify the ones we find in heirloom gardens. Howard's book is more cogently organized and useful for this purpose and has much better pictures. This book is also descriptively stronger on Mexican and S Texas bulbs just beginning to be recognized as garden worthy along the gulf coast.
While Ogden's beautifully written book, passionate in its love of bulbous plants and strong on their history of cultivation in the gulf south is certainly a must in a well rounded gulf south gardener's library, it is Howard's lucid prose which provides us with nomenclatural guidence to the identification and culture of these bulbs and also credits the sources of hybrid bulbs of any sort in any century with much greater certainty and respect.
Neither book should be omitted from any serious practical gardener's library in the gulf south. You may skip Elizabeth Lawrence and go directly to Ogden & Howard - it's really obvious in spite of her beautiful prose, that Elizabeth Lawrence did not experience many nights above 70 degrees and didn't even know we couldn't grow Crocus, not to mention that we harvest our last pretty tomatoes around June.
This is a must have reference guide for the Southern bulb enthusiest. There are hundreds of photos that help identify species, and plant histories are informative as well.
I consider this the best guide for those who live in the south and collect native or other bulbs for warm climates.