My New Shade Gardening Book!

February 6, 2014 by  
Filed under My New Book

coverimageI am happy and proud to announce that my new book, The Shady Lady’s Guide to Northeast Shade Gardening from the University Press of New England is now available at bookstores and is shipping from online retailers!

If you own a copy and are looking for the supplemental photos promised in the book, you can view the first batch (for Plants for Special Situations, beginning on page 189), by clicking here. Photos of Selected Shrubs (corresponding to text beginning on page 31) are on view here.

In the near future, in response to reader requests, I’ll also be adding a gallery of wider context garden shots to illustrate some of the shade garden design pointers I give.

I’d like to say a heartfelt “thanks” to readers who have posted favorable reviews in cyberspace, as well as to these respected folks, who read the book in the pre-print stage and had some kind words:

“Gardens—and gardeners—are rooted in place, so it’s a good idea to let people know where you’re coming from when you offer advice. Amy Ziffer’s The Shady Lady’s Guide to Northeast Shade Gardening puts it right out front. Hers is no one-size-fits-all tome, but a friendly and informative guide for gardeners who deal with trees, deer and unpredictable weather of the Northeast. Practical, detailed and realistic, Ziffer engagingly conveys the challenges and rewards garnered from years of hands-on gardening and close observation. Her depth of experience and conversational tone make this book the next best thing to being in the garden with her.”
Karen Bussolini, garden author, photographer, speaker and eco-friendly garden coach

“Every Northeastern gardener needs to read this eyes-wide-open, tell-it-like-it-is book. Even if you don’t have shade now, follow the advice in this book and sections of your garden might someday bask in the shadows of luxuriant bedfellows. Get enlightened.”
Tovah Martin, author of The Unexpected Houseplant and The New Terrarium.

“If you are tired of watching your lawn fade in the shady areas of your property, or have decided to fill those bare spots under your oak with beautiful perennials, Amy Ziffer can help. In her timely new book, the Shady Lady challenges a common misconception in gardening: that there are very few perennials that thrive in the shade. For gardeners seeking a nondestructive compromise between all native landscapes and those decorated only with exotic ornamentals, The Shady Lady’s Guide to Northeast Shade Gardening is a must read.”
Douglas W. Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants.

I wrote the book because I saw a need for a different kind of book about ornamental shade gardening. While much good material has been written about the subject through the years, I saw the existing body of advice as incomplete.

What makes this book different from ones you’ve seen before? First, it’s specifically for gardeners in the Northeast. Because weather, growing conditions, and plant pests and diseases vary so much from region to region, you’ll find the best, most accurate gardening advice close to home. My book talks only about plants we Northeast gardeners can grow, organized to help you narrow down your choices even further by USDA Zone and growing situation.

Second, it takes a unique approach to plant selection and design. I’ve been frustrated by shade gardening books that simply list plants as if all of them were equally good. They’re not. My book evaluates plants based on their performance potential over the whole growing season as well as in specific light levels and under different growing conditions. They’re categorized to help you quickly find the plants most likely to contribute to a rewarding, successful landscape design for your unique property.

I introduce a concept I’ve used in my own design work for years: backbone plants. This is my own term for a select group of plants whose ornamental qualities are so superior to those of the bulk of plants that they should comprise the majority of most shade garden designs. By devoting most of your garden space to backbone plants, you’ll simplify the process of design and increase the chances of having a satisfying garden enormously.

Third, it discusses gardening honestly and frankly, as an endeavor that requires a real commitment of time and energy and has a real ecological impact—potentially good or bad. I strongly encourage increased use of the many fine native plants that have the potential to be superior shade garden performers. Conversely, I warn readers about the possible negative effects of using overly aggressive exotic plants they might one day wish they’d never grown. It’s my hope the book will stimulate a respectful dialogue—one that’s already going on—about whether and how we gardeners should leave a mark on our surroundings.

Thanks for your interest in my book! Here are links to a variety of resources where you can find out more about it and purchase it online (but please don’t forget about your hometown bookseller):

My Author page at the University Press of New England’s website.

My Facebook Author page. Please “Like” my page to help me promote it!


Barnes and Noble


Indigo (Canada)

Powell’s Books