This is an excellent reference book, especially given that its topic is very far from being a well-defined category. It''s quite readable, nicely printed, and seems likely to be durable (for a normal paperback book, that is). However, its aims make it less than...
This is an excellent reference book, especially given that its topic is very far from being a well-defined category. It''s quite readable, nicely printed, and seems likely to be durable (for a normal paperback book, that is).
However, its aims make it less than satisfactory for someone interested in choosing or identifying succulents for the garden, houseplants, etc. As others have commented, most of the photos are of succulents in habitat. Some of these are spectacular; in others, it''s almost impossible to distinguish the plant under discussion from other vegetation, rocks, etc. Generally, they don''t help either to identify an unknown succulent or to picture how it might appear if you grew it. Furthermore, the selection of plants covered is clearly slanted toward the rare, hard-to-access, or distinctive. This allows for very little coverage (much less photos) of the proliferation of hybrids and visually distinctive cultivars produced by nurseries and sold for the garden or as houseplants.
So, I''m glad I bought the book: it is cool to know about where these plants come from & get an idea of what they look like in their native habitat. The author describes some of the more extreme places where commonly-grown as well as unheard-of plants come from vividly, making the book an armchair voyage to some of the planet''s most inhospitable terrain. Socotra sounds horrible, but I was fascinated to read about it.
But I wish someone would write an equally authoritative reference work on succulents in the garden. (And leave out the categories that have no place in a landscape & are unlikely to be grown successfully by someone without a greenhouse, etc. - living stones are cool, I personally find "root succulents" repulsive, neither is a landscape plant.) No-one could keep up with the proliferation of wild & crazy hybrid Echeveria, sedums, etc., never mind all the cross-generic hybrids, not to mention the radically different appearance of genetically identical plants under different cultural conditions (with / without rain, etc.).
But I''d really like to have a book that covered the top 10 most common Aeonium species / established varieties in cultivation, with clear pictures of each one - and the equivalent for the main species & standard hybrids of the other prominent succulent genera used in the garden. I don''t want to buy multiple volumes per genus - I''m not planning to open a nursery - and there are already *plenty* of books on landscaping with succulents, choosing and arranging succulents for containers, crafting with succulents, etc. Meanwhile, I''m still not sure what species several of the aeoniums I''m growing are, even though I''m a plant person (and a Latinist), and I''ve been obsessively propagating & slightly less obsessively researching these things for a year.
So, buy this book by all means. It''s very cool, and the author is both a top expert and a lively writer. But don''t expect it to answer all or even most of your questions about succulents you encounter in gardens, nurseries, etc.