The New Southern Living Garden Book is a great resource that entices readers with beauty and information...

I'm a collector.  I'm a collector of plants, pottery, dishes, bird statuary and many other things.  Aside from plants, I derive the most enjoyment from my garden book collection.

I have books on perennials, vegetables, design, famous gardeners and gardens, drought-tolerant gardens, heat-tolerant gardens, children's gardens, succulent gardens, vertical gardening and gardening inside the home.  I love my books.  I never tire of pulling one out and perusing all the beautiful photos and unique stories, tips and guidelines.

While I have an assortment of comprehensive and encyclopedic books, I may have just found my new go-to bible.

It's not always easy to find resources that provide real-life, detailed information about gardening in the south -- specifically the southwest.  Redesigned and updated, The New Southern Living Garden Book is a beautiful compilation of plant and garden information dedicated to how WE garden in the South and here in Central Texas.

More than 8,000 plants and 2,000 stunning photos of plants fill this 768-page book.  The plant encyclopedia includes information about light and water needs, several climate zone designations and adaptability as well as toxicity.  The entries also outline many of the different varieties of each plant, highlighting all of their unique characteristics. 

Then, it does the work for you.  You can slice and dice the information in a whole host of ways in the pages that provide information and recommend plants for seasonal color, cutting flowers, colorful foliage, winter interest, fragrant flowers, showy border perennials and more.  When I'm searching for inspiration and ideas, this is how I want my information presented.  Next come the sections that highlight plants for coastal gardens, drough tolerant gardens, deer resistant gardens, hanging basket and window-box gardens, southern natives and plants that attract butterflies and birds.

And there's more - practical garden tips and advice about soil, fertilizing, watering and pruning.  It includes a detailed aseasonal garden checklist, and my personal favorite -- "Solving the Mystery of Botanical Plant Names."  Wow.  Did you know that 'angustifolia' refers to  a narrow leaf form in a plant?  Or that 'barccata' means berried or berrylike?  Or that riparia means 'of riverbanks?'  Ah, one I knew -- 'texana' means of Texas!

As I was soaking it all in, I turned the page and found a double-page spread showcasing the beauty of the fall garden with a gorgeous photo of the Gentling garden that I visited on the Garden Bloggers Fling in Asheville in 2012.  You can tour the garden with me here  here

Here's an excerpt from the book:  "Leaves Blazing -- Bathed in early November's late afternoon sun, trees catch fire around Peter and Jasmin Gentling's rustic home in Asheville, North Carolina.  Mountainous locations like this provide the South's most dependable fall color."

Just as the computer can entice me into rabbit holes for hours and hours on end, this book lured me in and I soon found myself lost in its glossy, plant-filled pages.  It's the perfect way to spend a winter evening, or two or three or four.

Note:  Southern Living sent me this book and I chose to read and then review it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and am sharing with you my personal opinion.

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