The Flower Expert - D.G. Hessayon

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The Flower Expert - D.G. Hessayon

Non-Fiction - Lifestyle - Home & Garden - ISBN: 8487535275

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Review of "The Flower Expert - D.G. Hessayon"

published 07/09/2017 | 2mennycds
Member since : 28/08/2015
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Best wishes to all, and thanks for your kind rates and comments, have been half-expecting the latest announcement for at least the last year. Have thoroughly enjoyed being a member over the last couple of years or so.
Pro ACCESSIBLE, wide scope, helpful format, concise
Cons Hard to source new
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How easy was it to read / get information from
How interesting was the book?
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"How does your garden grow?"

The Flower Expert - D.G. Hessayon

The Flower Expert - D.G. Hessayon

From being a child, I’ve had an interest in garden flowers and in growing them. After I got married, I brightened up the back yard of our terraced house by making a raised flower bed (our next-door neighbour demolished an outbuilding and was happy not to have to dispose of the bricks). I chiselled out some drainage holes in the concrete and bought some top soil, and grew some geraniums and pansies from seed. Even many years and two house moves later, my in-laws still commented from time to time about how nice it had looked, and that from upstairs it made a splash of colour among the back yards.

This book proved an excellent guide for selecting and growing plants back then. I don’t know when it was first published, but I have the 7th edition; the title page states that by the time of the reprint of the 7th edition, the book had sold a total of 1,500,000 copies.

It’s clearly stood the test of time and is still being purchased by many people. Are they wasting their money, or is its popularity deserved?


This book covers garden “flowers” only. Companion titles deal with: house plants; garden shrubs; roses; lawns; vegetables; fruit plants. I think this is a good approach. It makes the book’s size (and price) reasonable. It also means that you get what you are interested in rather than buying a book that has a lot of content of little or no interest whatever. I suspect that this has contributed to its success.

85 different types of plant are described in the “Annuals and Biennials” chapter alone.

~ ~ ~ I think the scope of the book is EXCELLENT for two reasons. Firstly, it describes a good number of plants. Secondly, it covers many unusual plants, as well as familiar ones


The book is generally ordered around the types of plant grouped by their growing habit, but the terms are basic and standard – and, more importantly to my mind, are described at the start of each chapter. The chapters are: “Annuals and Biennials”, “Border Perennials”, “Bulbs”. Other chapters deal with related topics, “Increasing Your Stock” (just the thing for saving money!), “Flower Care” (maintenance), “Hobby Plants” (“show” plants such as chrysanthemums”) and “Plant Troubles” (diseases and pests). A chapter “Rockery Perennials” is helpful – it deals with plants that flower every year that are suitable to what used to be found in every garden, whatever size, with limestone rocks dotted on top of the soil among the plants!

~ ~ ~ I greatly appreciate the accessible structure of the book.


This is a trade-off. Some people would prefer a lot of detail about each plant. This book isn’t for them.

~ ~ ~ It scores very highly in my estimation for the amount of concise detail that it contains, given the number of plant species that it covers. I’ll include a “sample” overview later. If you want a lot of plants described in great detail, you ned to shell out more money than this book costs!


Every page is liberally illustrated in colour, each plant species illustrated with a colour photograph, and many – especially where a plant species has more than one variety – are also illustrated by artist illustration too.

~ ~ ~ I really find the number and quality of illustrations a help when selecting plants


~ ~ ~ I find the text concise, but every word counts, and a lot of information is contained in a few words! I also like the format with helpful headings for each plant.

Here’s an overview, using the entry for “gazania” as an example:
75 words of description and some cultivation tips; VARIETIES: a list of colour varieties available; SITE AND SOIL: where to grow or not to grow; PLANT DETAILS: a note of the plant’s height, how far apart to plant individual plants, and the time of year it flowers; PROPAGATION: how to grow your own specimens.

The index

Some garden plant books have two indices, one a listing by scientific name, the other listed by popular name.

~ ~ ~ In my opinion, this book saves a lot of potential confusion by having only one joint index

The extras

I really do think that this book delivers a lot for your money, and combines elements for which you would otherwise need to buy several books.

Randomly spread throughout the book, and neatly and very visibly separated from the surrounding text are brief lists of, for example “Plants For Sunny, Dry Sites”, “Flowers For Every Season: October-December”, “Plants For Shade”, “Plants For Flower Arranging”.

~ ~ ~ in conjunction with the index, I find this a great way to select plants, and an interesting browse, too.

Concluding comments

I rate this 5 stars – I’d give it more if I could! As indicated throughout this review, I think this book gives a lot for your money.

~ ~ ~ it could in fact save money due to its scope (specialised, “flowers”, not including other types of garden plants, yet covering a lot of plant species).

~ ~ ~ I also rate highly the concise but fairly comprehensive nature of the text (bearing in mind the book’s relatively small size and low price.

~ ~ ~ I think this is a brilliant starting point for those new to gardening to select and care for plants. Garden centres in the last 20 years or so have displayed far more detailed labels on their stock that describes the plant, where to plant it and how to care for it. However, they DON’T usually tend to say anything detrimental about this or that plant species, of course, as they are in the business of selling plants for profit!

~ ~ ~ equally, I think this book is handy for more experienced gardeners. It’s compact enough and well-illustrated enough to make browsing easy on the eye and pleasurable, and I’ve selected and grown some unusual plants as a result of this: echium “blue bedder”, xeranthemum, scabiosa sweet/annual scabious, among others.

~ ~ ~ even in hard copy (paperback) format, the book is compact enough to take on a visit to a garden centre, to help to check out at least many, if not all, the plant species on offer, and I often do this. I’ve bought on impulse too often (and still do so from time to time!) and regretted some purchases later; some have died, others have thrived a little more than I would have liked!

~ ~ ~ unfortunately, my (1990) edition doesn’t contain a separate section, large or small, for plants beneficial to pollinating insects or birds (for example).

This book is harder to source than I expected; Amazon Marketplace advertise a new copy for £14.99. Foyles and Waterstones advertise it for £9.99, but state that it is out of stock.

Second hand copies are available from Amazon Marketplace or E-Bay, and you may see it in charity shops, or car boot sales.

© 2mennycds September 2017

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Comments on this review

  • CGholy published 06/10/2017
    nice one.
  • ryeb published 04/10/2017
    A great series. My local independent flower nursery has various copies in this series hung around the sales area for reference and you can see why. The updated editions haven't changed much.
  • CelticSoulSister published 22/09/2017
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Product Information : The Flower Expert - D.G. Hessayon

Manufacturer's product description

Non-Fiction - Lifestyle - Home & Garden - ISBN: 8487535275

Product Details

Author: D.G. Hessayon

Title: The Flower Expert

Subgenre: Home & Garden

Genre: Lifestyle

Type: Non-Fiction

ISBN: 8487535275

EAN: 9788487535277


Listed on Ciao since: 08/06/2001