Book Review: Cool Flowers, by Lisa Mason Ziegler


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5 stars

A book I have come back to again and again.

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? My fan-girl gushing about this lady and her wealth of knowledge might have been a clue for you!

Pansies were my first clue that this book may be a key resource for me. I’ll tell you why. Pansies love it cool, or even cold. Therefore, I wasn’t too surprised when they survived the winter last year (and this one too.) What really surprised me was how well they did all summer. Usually they will just fade into nothing when it gets really hot, but they kept on blooming prolifically all summer long last year!

Look how gorgeous these pansies are—this was taken in August! High summer heat and they were thriving.

Look how gorgeous these pansies are—this was taken in August! High summer heat and they were thriving.

I live in a mountain valley, and I know elevation has an effect on frost dates and USDA frost hardiness zone and such. However, technically I am in the same zone here (5b) as I was in Washington state, and my pansies never survived a summer there, unless they were in full-on shade! These were not, by the way. Mostly sun, as a matter of fact.

So I decided to go really big for what Ms. Ziegler calls “cool flowers,” another name for hardy annuals. These are flowers that actually prefer cooler weather. Many of them will either winter over, if started in the fall, or can be started VERY early spring to pump out blooms before most other flowers have even woken up!

So I thought if the pansies are making it all summer long, maybe some of the other cool flowers will do just as well! At least, that’s my hope. In fact, the 2 flowers that did the very best in my garden last year were also cool flowers: bachelor’s buttons and Bells of Ireland. Like the pansies, they bloomed all summer long for me. I think I’m on to something here!

Bells of Ireland, July 2017

Bells of Ireland, July 2017

Here’s an incomplete list of the hardy annuals she covers in the book: Ammi (Queen Anne’s lace), bachelor’s buttons, Bells of Ireland, black—eyed Susan, dill, feverfew, foxglove, poppies, pincushion flowers, and so on. Some of my favorite flowers are on that list! Each flower gets its own page with tips for seed-starting, winter-growing strategies, and a section called “Keep the Blooms Coming.”

If that was all she covered this book would be a valuable resource. In addition to the individual flower facts, she also has chapters devoted to the life cycle of a hardy annual, seed starting, healthy soil, etc.

Full-color photographs, tips, and sidebars, offer even more information.

Some of my flower farming books are a one-time read, or maybe an occasional second look. This is one I have gone back to time and again. I also recently took Lisa’s seed starting course and it was fabulous.

She has a website with videos, online classes, a shop, and more, called The Gardener’s Workshop..

If you have this one (or get it) tell me: did it open your eyes to a whole new world of flower planting?

Linnae Harper