Rainbow Foliage for Containers and Gardens
by Ray Rogers
For a book about plants, this one is informative and engaging. It even made me laugh quite a few times. I like a bit of humor in gardening books. It\’s all about coleus. I acquired my first coleus by accident- it was an abandoned plant someone gave to me and I didn\’t even know what it was. I almost killed it with improper care. Then I learned how to take cuttings, and got a few more varieties. Now I have a list- mostly from this book! – of other types I\’d like to have. I must be picky, though, because my window space is limited in winter time, to keep them going for spring…
Anyway, this book gives a little history of the plant, explaning why there are so many varieties of coleus out there (with a confusing number of common names as well). It tells, of course, how to care for coleus- some of them are more finicky than you\’d expect- and how to take cuttings or grow from seed- if you want something totally unpredictable. Helpfully, there is a wide range of photographs demonstrating how coleus can be featured in the garden- a lot of them have very gaudy, even shocking colors, which can be difficult to harmonize. I don\’t really care for the appearance of coleus topiary- but if you aspire to that, there are instructions in here. The gallery of cultivars at back has clear photographs and descriptions telling you what plant might actually be another by the same name, what types of sun/shade they can stand, how they behave differently if the lighting or temperature is not to their liking, the stability of pattern throughout a growing season or when taking cuttings and so forth. The notes are brief, but very helpful. Already I noted that a few which caught my eye while reading the book, might not really be worth the trouble to grow long-term.
I also gained some tips on their care, things I didn\’t know before. I discovered that the oddly round leaf I found on one of my orange-and-red coleus must have been a \’sport\’- and I should have cut it to grow out into its own plant! also that the individual plants will drastically change color intensity depending on what kind of lighting they are in. I\’ve seen that happen, too.
Borrowed from the public library. One I\’ll gladly add to my own shelf, if I ever find it at a sale.
Rating: 4/5 228 pages, 2008