Growing Trees and Shrubs

The Complete Idiot’s Guide Book Review

Large ornamental plants create the backdrop for garden landscapes and set off other plants and bulbs. Learn how to grow and care for flowering and garden shrubs.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Trees and Shrubs was written by Joshua Plunkett and Jeanne Hanson and published by Alpha Books, a member of the Penguin Group. The easy-to-understand guide for selecting and planting large plants for your garden areas is a great resource for gardeners.

The Basics of Shrub Plants

Plunkett and Hanson begin the book with an overview of shrubs and trees, the basic botany type of information to help gardeners understand why certain conditions need to be met for plants to grow to their best potential. Information about the ornamental features of trees and shrubs is included with specific details about flowers, cones and foliage.

Guidelines for Gardening with Shrubs

The next sections of Trees and Shrubs give the gardener basic guidelines for not only understanding their garden landscape, but plant profiles for zone-specific plants. Gardeners will learn how to find their hardiness zone, how to deal with temperature extremes and protect their shrubs. Sun and shade conditions and rainfall information is also discussed with plant suggestions for various garden landscapes. And since no shrub and tree book would be complete without discussing soil conditions, this basic guideline finishes up with tips for understanding garden soil.

Growing Shrubs and Trees – Foliage, Flowers and Fruit

Trees and Shrubs then covers the various parts of shrub and tree plants that gardeners look for when selecting a large ornamental to add to their garden landscapes; foliage (leaves), flowers and fruit. A helpful section of one chapter covers plants to select for different gardening zones according to the flower color; yellow, red, white, cream, pink, purple, orange or blue. Another chapter discusses planting for berries and ornamental fruit in specific garden zones with fruits of various colors. Foliage for the garden is discussed with guidelines for spring and summer foliage, as well as autumn foliage in shrubs and trees.

Designing with Shrubs and Trees

Some basic elements of garden design are discussed in the next section of the book and there are several areas covered:

  • Shape
  • Size
  • Color
  • Smell and other special features
  • Privacy or “garden rooms”
  • Potential allergies or invasive plants

Trees and Shrubs does a really good job at explaining which plants to buy so you are sure to pick healthy specimens, and how to plant your shrubs and trees once you get them home. Watering, pruning, mulching and fertilizing are all elements of shrub maintenance that are covered well.

Diseases, Pests and Other Plant Problems

The entire last section of Trees and Shrubs discusses potential problems that can occur including plant diseases, bugs and harmful pests and mechanical injuries that can harm our large ornamental plants.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Trees and Shrubs does an excellent job at presenting much needed information in a fun way with lots of tips, trick, quick facts and interesting sidebars included throughout the pages. Useful appendixes include a gardening glossary, native trees and shrubs, shrubs for butterflies, bees and fragrance and detailed growing information with photos on a CD-ROM disk that comes with the book.

About AngEngland

has written 498 posts in this blog.

Founder of Untrained Housewife, Editor-in-Chief of Blissfully Domestic (, mother of five, wife of one, and God-seeker always.


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