This is the first (alphabetically) of a 20 volume set. I give the set as a whole very high marks, but this particular volume is not outstanding on its own.
This volume, Annuals, begins by talking about how flowers are classified in general. Then it gives advice on planning a garden with color using annuals. There is a section on designing garden beds, including how to mix annuals and perennials for beauty throughout the seasons.
Next, there is a listing of annuals that are good candidates for various needs. For example, lists include such things as “Annuals that Naturalize, ” or “Annuals for Edging.” The next chapter tells you how to start annuals from seed, followed by how to grow the plants once they are planted in the garden beds. This includes frequent mistakes, common pests, and keeping a calendar. The final 60 pages of the book are a plant selection guide. This lists species of annuals and their features: uses, color, height, how to start, where to plant, spacing, care, country of origin, and some additional text about the plants. Each species has a picture of the plant.
I will say that I learned about a lot of annuals that I was unfamiliar with through this book. And I might appreciate this volume more if I grew more annuals. But there is a lot of information available on this topic from many different sources, and unless you are trying to collect this entire set, I’d say to skip this particular volume. The varieties and cultivars of annuals that are available change so rapidly that I think you can find more up-to-date information on line.
This set of books was published in 1981 by Ortho for the American Horticultural Society. I signed up on one of those “get one book every 6 weeks and stop when you want” deals. I was determined to come up with the money to get the entire set, and managed to do just that. At the time each volume cost about $15. I now find that they are considered rare and the volumes I am able to locate on line are selling more in the $30 range. The books are richly illustrated with color photographs which do a good job of expanding the text.
Each book is 8.5 x 11.25 inches, hardcover, and about 150 pages including the index. This volume is 144 pages.
If you pick up the softcover Ortho books from the racks at your local garden center, you will find some of the same pictures, and some overlap of information, but this encyclopedia goes into more detail and covers many more topics than the Ortho series.