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Gardens By Design

Cool Plants

for Cold Climates

A Garden Designer's Perspective

A cold climate is no excuse for a dull, colorless garden. The key is knowing the right plants that will survive and thrive in even the chilliest environments. Who better to guide gardeners than an expert from the far north? Award-winning designer and Alaska gardener Brenda Adams has spent decades searching for exceptional plants that flourish in wintery climates. In Cool Plants for Cold Climates, she presents vivid and detailed portraits of the best and most beautiful of the bunch.

When Adams moved from the warm Southwest to Alaska, she found herself in a different gardening world, with few guides on how to approach this new ecosystem. Now, more than twenty-five years later, she shares the secrets gained from her years of gardening experiments as well as bountiful advice from friends and local nurseries. She explains how to evaluate a plant, balancing its artistic attributes with its more utilitarian ones, as well as how to evaluate your space and soil. Adams then takes you into the nursery, offering guidance on how to pick the best of the best. Finally, she offers a detailed look at a wide variety of wonderful plants, highlighting those that offer overall beauty, are especially easy to care for, and solidly hardy. With more than three hundred vivid pictures of both individual plants and full gardens, Adams proves that there is a bounty of plants, in a rainbow of colors, waiting to brighten up your space.

Cool Plants for Cold Climates

Buy your copy as well as gifts for friends, each with a personalized inscription and signed by Brenda.

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What Are Folks Saying About This Book?

"Brenda Adams, author and designer, has done it again! This time she digs into Cool Plants for Cold Climates and gives you the real nitty gritty. As a successful designer, she offers great insights on what will grow in the harshest climates. She discusses everything from bulbs and perennials, to trees and other plants that can grow in this climate. The pictures will inspire you to try some new plants and tackle some new ideas. This book will be an invaluable resource for old and new gardeners because as an experienced gardener and designer, she is one ‘cool’ writer and fresh new voice!”

Stephanie Cohen, lecturer from coast to coast, Fellow of Garden Writers of America, Honor Award Winner from the Perennial Plant Association, author of three books and hundreds of articles, contributing editor and writer for Fine Gardening magazine, and certifiable plant geek

“I love every page of Cool Plants for Cold Climates. Brenda writes with a personal touch that makes us believe we can create gardens as beautiful as those she’s designed. She provides not only inspiration, but practical advice for creating a garden with year-round beauty, and even offers pointers on shopping for perennials, trees, and shrubs. This book is a gold mine with nuggets of wisdom on selecting plants for their impact and dependability. An essential companion for every gardener.”

Julie Riley, Extension Horticulture Agent, Cooperative Extension Service,
University of Alaska Fairbanks

“Brenda Adams has created an indispensable resource for cold-climate gardeners, based on the simple premise that they want cool plants, too. Cool Plants for Cold Climates is so much more than a plant encyclopedia—it is the sum of the knowledge and wisdom (and wit) of a gardener who loves plants and refuses to be constrained by a short growing season. Adams deftly blends her designer’s perspective and gardening expertise into a wonderfully fresh primer for gardeners of all stripes.”

Richard Hawke, Plant Evaluation Manager, Chicago Botanic Garden

“Brenda Adams presents a garden as a theatrical event, and her scenes encourage gardeners to look beyond flower color to the dizzying array of plant attributes: texture, shape, motion, fragrance, hardiness, and more. Her palette of exceptional plants, practical advice backed by years of experience, and stunning photographs will be inspirational and educational to all northern gardeners.”

Dr. Patricia S. Holloway, Professor Emerita, Horticulture, University of Alaska Fairbanks

“Finally, a gardening book on plants and landscape design that imparts not just the facts but masterfully conveys the thought process through which expert landscape designers evaluate each plant’s usefulness, positive merits, and drawbacks. From the opening sentence of the Introduction—where the author correctly references ‘foliage’ ahead of ‘flowers’ in describing any plant’s physical makeup—the reader begins to view gardening, plants, and landscape design in an entirely new light. Each section of the book effortlessly advances the reader’s understanding of the myriad roles played by annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs in the creation of beautiful gardens and overall landscapes. Vital professional secrets are revealed about choosing plants for your garden in such extremely helpful sections as ‘Winter Display,’ ‘Size and Scale,’ ‘Behavior in the Garden,’ ‘Choosing a Nursery,’ and ‘Other Shopping Tips’ (it’s the first gardening book I’ve read that tells you exactly why to choose a containerized shrub versus the same shrub sitting next to it). Combined with Adams’ friendly, fluid writing style and gorgeous photography, Cool Plants for Cold Climates ushers in an entirely new template for gardening books. Brenda Adams gets it, and after reading this book, you will too.”

Don Engebretson, The Renegade Gardener™, award-winning garden writer, speaker and landscape designer in Minnesota

“Brenda Adams has crafted a unique and timely book like no other in contemporary garden literature. Cool Plants for Cold Climates is an indispensable guide to selecting and growing the finest plants for northern gardens. Lushly illustrated and engagingly written, sophisticated concepts are explained in accessible prose—detailing plant evaluation criteria, cultural requirements, maintenance, seasonality, and aesthetics. Every consideration is expertly explained, from foliage and flower to bark and berry. Rounding out the volume is an encyclopedia of time-tested plants, showcasing the best species and cultivars for ease of culture, durability, and beauty in cold climes. Cool Plants for Cold Climates is just the ticket for wintertime garden planning while the snow is flying, a spring foray to the nursery, or any day when you need a dose of encouragement and inspiration.”

C. Colston Burrell, author of Perennial Combinations and Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide

“After Brenda’s first book, There’s a Moose In My Garden, I’m not surprised to find that Cool Plants for Cold Climates is absolutely fabulous! In it Adams takes the next step, honing in on the specifics of how to evaluate, grow, and use cold climate varieties for excellent results. Her precise descriptions are easy to follow and understand. With spectacular photos and her usual sense of humor shining through on every page, this is definitely not just another ‘how to’ book. A definite for every cold climate gardener’s library."

Rita Jo Shoultz, Alaska Perfect Peony,

“Cool Plants for Cold Climates is packed with practical advice as well as plant recommendations to give even the most timid cold climate gardener courage. Adams’ passion comes through as she paints vivid word pictures of the plants she features accompanied by excellent photographs. This is a read that’s sure to lead to rejuvenation of the gardener’s soul on the worst winter’s day!”

Tracy DiSabato-Aust, bestselling author The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, The Well-Designed Mixed Garden, and 50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants
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Phone: 907-235-1900
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Gardens By Design

Gardens By Design is Alaska’s premier garden design service. We offer a full line of garden design, installation, and maintenance services to enhance your landscape. Based in Homer, Alaska, award-winning Gardens By Design creates unique garden and landscape designs for both commercial and residential clients throughout southcentral Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula.

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