Cool Plants for Cold Climates—Book Review

This book review first appeared in the November/December 2017 issue of Northern Gardener magazine.

Facing another Minnesota winter, it’s comforting to know that it could be worse. We could be gardening in Alaska, right?

But Brenda Adams’ delightful new book, Cool Plants for Cold Climates, A Garden Designer’s Perspective (University of Alaska Press, 2017) makes gardening in Alaska look, well, not easy, but oh so beautiful. And her engaging writing style provides enough solid information buttressed by her personal experiences to make lovely gardens, here and there, seem entirely attainable.

The book is full of gorgeous photographs, many taken by Adams in her garden or the gardens of her friends and neighbors.

In the first two sections of the book, the author describes the qualities she thinks make plants exceptional in impact, utility or dependability and how different plants contribute to healthy, beautiful gardens. In the third section, Adams covers how to analyze a garden environment, including the soil, and how and what to fix, manage or forget about. She also suggests some novel ways for pushing the limits on USDA Zones 2 through 5.

In the At the Nursery section, Adams discusses how to select plants and also how to nurture them through the transition to your garden. She offers an interesting idea for “hardening off” plants that avoids the in-and-out maneuvering that often derails the process.

Then, in the final section, Adams gets to the cool stuff. Each plant suggestion includes a photo; basic information about size, cultural requirements and bloom time; and anecdotal information gleaned from her experience with the plant.

Julie Jensen

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