In the Garden with Miriam Jabour|Better together: New book details plant combos with pizzazz

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 25, 2009

Norman Winter has done it again. His newest book from University Press, “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden,” is sure to become a favorite.

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The Openwood Garden Club plant sale will be from 8 a.m. to noon today at 209 Pecan Blvd.

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He promises on the cover that this book will show a gardener how to add unforgettable pizzazz to a landscape by using effective plant combinations.

Winter, a horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, is a popular guest speaker throughout the South. Local gardeners have heard him speak at the Fall Flower & Garden Fest in Crystal Springs as well as at the Jackson Garden and Patio Show. His books include “Tough-As-Nails Flowers for the South,” “Mississippi’s Gardener’s Guide” and “Paradise Found: Growing Tropicals in Your Own Backyard.” He writes a weekly column carried by newspapers across the state, and gardeners everywhere can access it through

Winter is a wonderful photographer. A total of 200 colorful photos are included in this book, along with all kinds of advice for combining many of the newest selections on the market today. The book helps a gardener understand how to combine newly released plant partners with a few old favorites, including native plants, to successfully create a theme garden. Container garden basics are addressed so that even a novice gardener can create a successful container plant combination.

Winter is foremost a horticulturist and wants his gardening fans to find successful outcomes when following his recommendations. The combinations he uses throughout the book include tried-and-true selections as well as varieties developed by breeders that do particularly well throughout our region.

Winter says there is nothing tricky about creating captivating combinations. Gardeners should always consider color and how it can best be used. He mentions that most books dealing with color are predominately interested with the art of color. He focuses on partnerships by style or theme that can be developed by combining certain plants in a garden.

Plant identifications corresponding to most of the photos are a big plus. Often, gardeners see sensational plant combinations used in a commercial planting or professionally designed private landscape. And, in most cases, a gardener has no sure way to identify the component plants or cultivars. Winter pinpoints many popular methods the professionals are using so they can be duplicated by the home gardener.

Ornamental grasses are a growing trend, and gardeners want to know more about their use. Winter demonstrates how easy-to-grow grasses can partner beautifully with roses, perennials and annuals to add a new dimension to any home landscape. Grasses must be coupled with companion plants that have similar growing requirements, and Winter’s book offers some great options.

“Captivating Combinations” focuses on choices that will work in Mississippi gardens. It is available locally. Add it to your gardening library or think about giving it to that special gardener in your life. The paperback version retails for $28.

Miriam Jabour, a Master Gardener and master flower show judge, has been active with the Vicksburg Council of Garden Clubs for more than 20 years. Write to her at 1114 Windy Lake Drive, Vicksburg, MS 39183.