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This book is devoted exclusively to variegated plants and lists nearly 700 types. Each entry gives specific advice on cultivation and propagation, and gives details of botanical family, height, spread, and flowering time.
All gardens benefit from a variegated plant to lift what can in a border become just an amorphous blob of green. They add a ray of light to dark corners, add interest and break up neighbouring plants which in turn shows them off to their best advantage. Many add year-round interest in their evergreen habit and all give a garden an extra life during the months prior to flowering. Variations in leaves range from the vertical stripes of Phalaris arundinacea 'Picto', the horizontal stripes of Scirpus zebrinus, the cream edging of many Hedera helix and hosta varieties, the blotches and speckles of Tolmiea menziesii 'Taff's Gold' and many abutilons and the highlighted veins Trifolium repens 'Susan Smith'. In colour they vary not only in the shades of green but in white, cream, yellow, orange, red, pink and purple - sometimes even a mixture of all of these such as many fancy-leaved pelargoniums. From seed grown annuals to graft-propagated trees and shrubs, variegation occurs in many plant families either naturally, by virus-induction or by specific plant-breeding. There are even variegated roses! The only downsides to variegated plants are the often clashing flower colours and, in non-seed produced plants, the tendency to revert to plain green. This, if not dealt with speedily, can result in the demise of the variegated form. Also, in many cases they are not as vigourous in growth and with annuals and perennials can cross-pollinate to produce inferior plants the following year. However, their benefits far outweigh these deficiencies, adding life and colour to borders and providing a garden with a well-painted look. After a brief introduction, an A-Z listing by plant type includes comprehensive cultivation details for each plant and is attractively illustrated by the photographs of Andrew Lawson. The inclusion of a short note per plant apropos flower arranging will assist those gardeners who like to bring their gardens indoors.