Book of the Month for Aug 2011

Saxifrages: A Definitive Guide to the 2000 Species, Hybrids & Cultivars
Saxifrages: book cover
Peter George

Saxifrages: A Definitive Guide to the 2000 Species, Hybrids & Cultivars, Malcolm McGregor, publisher: Timber Press (August 15, 2008); 384 pp, 339 color photos, hardcover; publisher's price: $49.95; Amazon price: $32.97.

I haven’t written a book review since college, and I am not enthusiastic about starting again in my 7th decade of life, but this book is good enough for me to break with tradition. I received it as a review copy from Timber Press, and was immediately struck by the book’s fine appearance and feel. It is solidly bound, printed on matte paper (commercial copies are printed on glossy paper), and filled with photographs of exceptional beauty and clarity, including the terrific cover photo.

I began reading with some trepidation, expecting an impenetrable text loaded with technical plant jargon, but quickly found myself delighted by the accessibility of the language and the logical order of McGregor’s presentation. From the discussion of ecology and habitats through the description and taxonomy of the species to the clear explanation of how best to grow them in your garden, I was carried along effortlessly.

By the time I was done, I was ready to start again. McGregor has written a book fit for a specialist, yet completely accessible to the novice. His descriptions of the enormous variety of these interesting and beautiful plants will absolutely delight any plant person, and will motivate many.

This review appeared in the Berkshire Chapter Newsletter February 2009.