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"Landscape Lessons": Landscaping by the Seasons of the Year

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Packed with information, Landscape Lessons is the type of gardening book that might find a home on a shelf in your shed, rather than in your library. That's very much meant as a compliment! This is a book that you'll want to have handy when you're working out in the yard, and you'll find yourself coming back to it again and again as one season of the year gives way to the next. In that sense, it's a "reference book," but don't let that terminology scare you away: The writing in Landscape Lessons is hardly dry; rather, it's down to earth and inspirational.


  • If you landscape in the southeastern U.S., this book is targeted to you.
  • For those "on the go": Read the book 1 lesson at a time, rather than all at once.
  • Down to earth, inspirational writing.
  • Book's focus changes according to season -- just as our own focus does!
  • Thoughful, rather than knee-jerk approach to invasive plants issue.


  • The book isn't currently available on the publisher's site, although they do offer alternatives.
  • Many of the pics relate to matters of personal interest to author, not matters of general interest.
  • Being a book about landscaping in the U.S. southeast, primarily, zone information is not supplied.


  • Good book if you don't have time to read a whole book right away, as it is best read as "lessons" spread out across the year.
  • Landscape Lessons takes complex issues and breaks them down into practical, timely tips.
  • Each lesson begins with an inspirational quote from a famous person.
  • For those who like the "personal touch" in a book, the author is not at all shy about relating personal facts from her life.
  • Approaches the invasive plants issue rationally, rather than with talking points -- most refreshing!
  • Publisher: TerraType Press, LLC, Ila, Georgia, USA

Guide Review - "Landscape Lessons": Landscaping by the Seasons of the Year

As a gardener, what are you thinking about in autumn? Chances are, it's not what you're thinking about in spring, right? Patricia Godwin Dunleavy's Landscape Lessons adroitly exploits this fact with a layout dictated by the seasons of the year. It's no coincidence that the book is comprised of 52 lessons (as in the 52 weeks of the year), falling within 4 chapters (as in the 4 seasons of the year). The book begins with landscaping information relevant to the week of September 17-23, sojourning through the rest of the autumn, week by week. It plods just as methodically through winter, spring and summer, ending after it has come full circle with the week of September 10-16.

Now sure, you can sit down and read this landscaping book cover to cover, all at once, regardless of the season of the year in which you buy it. But alternatively (and, perhaps, more sensibly), you can start reading one lesson per week, based on whatever time of year you begin. The author wrote the book in such a way that you're not missing anything if you commence your reading somewhere in the middle of the book -- for example, Lesson 23, geared for February 19-25. I cite that particular lesson because its contents address precisely what many gardeners would be wondering during the late winter: "I know there are some shrubs I should be pruning now, in late winter, but which ones are they, exactly?"

To give you a sense of the flavor of Dunleavy's "landscaping by the seasons" schema, allow me to cherry pick 4 examples -- one from each season:

Dunleavy says that she has to remind herself, "year after year, that the early-fall transition does not herald the end of flowers" and proceeds to offer suggestions for fall flowers.

In the lesson that covers the beginning of winter, Dunleavy connects mistletoe, holly and ivy to their usage in winter solstice festivals.

Confused by the fact that some azaleas are deciduous, while others are evergreen? Dunleavy provides a simple way to distinguish between the two in lesson 25, based on point of origin.

Lesson 45 is about ground covers, a topic that is also occasionally the source of some confusion. Just what constitutes a "ground cover"? Is it only spreading plants of a certain height that qualify? Dunleavy answers by cutting right to the chase: "Whether a plant is called a ground cover or not depends upon your use of it."

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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