Growing Penstemons: Species, Cultivars, and Hybrids

This is the book that tells you how to GROW penstemons!

Book Review: New Penstemon Book from the American Penstemon Society Growing Penstemons: Species, Cultivars, and Hybrids compiled by Dale Lindgren and Ellen Wilde
Published June, 2003
ISBN 0-7414-1529-1
US$ 17.95
Infinity Pub. Co.
519 West Lancaster Avenue
Haverford, PA 19041-1413

What a team of penstemon enthusiasts! Dr. Dale Lindgren, professor of horticulture at the University of Nebraska, has served as president of the APS. He is a highly-experienced grower and breeder of penstemons, with several outstanding (and widely-grown) named selections to his credit. Ellen Wilde has gardened for more than 60 years and is an enthusiast of native plants. She considers all penstemon native. She directed the seed exchange of the American Penstemon Society and currently manages the library and slide collection.
The book has a unique "hands-on" approach that utilizes the collective experience of members of the APS. It is especially readable, with an easy- flowing style. It is refreshingly free of jargon, but all necessary jargon is explained. Although there are no photos inside the book, the soft 8 by 11-inch glossy color cover has a dazzling collection of about 30 penstemon portraits. The book begins with a history of the APS and penstemon cultivation. Immediately preceding the description of species is a handy, well- illustrated, primer of penstemon terminology. This book contains a very thorough listing of hybrids, linking them especially well with their species parents. The chapter on cultivation reflects a huge collective growing experience. Chapters on propagation and breeding serve both to encourage experimentation and promote success in growing. There are 8 very handy appendices covering both wild and nursery grown sources for seeds and plants, a master classification, a list of gardens featuring penstemons to visit, judging criteria for flower shows (very welcome to be sure!), and a listing of other penstemon books. One appendix that is sure to be highly valued is the list by region of species and hybrids suggested for beginners. The list by state and province of native species is indispensable. How many times have garden people told me that they get overwhelmed because "all penstemons look alike". Such lists encourage the non- specialist to sort things out, relax, and begin to enjoy the details. The book is illustrated with line drawings and helpful diagrams. A CD collection of penstemon photos will be sold separately, with the intent to expand the collection. It will cost $25., plus $3. For shipping. A "Portfolio of Penstemon Species" will also be offered separately for $12. It will contain full page photos of over a hundred species arranged in alphabetical order. "Growing Penstemons" fits extremely well into the wonderful suite of penstemon books published in recent years. It is highly valued for the wealth of practical growing tips, with a concise and well- organized presentation. While the coverage is thorough enough for any true-blue penstemaniac, I also especially recommend this book to non- specialist folks such as extension staff, nursery-people, garden clubs, and libraries, for both its readability and breadth.