Midwest plantsman Rob Diblik offers help to grow a well-knitted garden in his new garden book, The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden. In this book, Diblik compiles color-keyed garden plans and perennial plants on descriptive pages – offering a well-written, informative read for the perennial gardener.
Diblik wrote The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden for people who love gardening, but want to learn about perennials that will amicably grow and rub elbows with each other in a Midwestern setting.
The author notes that it is in the “knowing” of what a gardener plants that caring for a garden over the long haul becomes easier to maintain.
Perennial plants are ornamental plants, which act as ground covers or grow tall in a landscape, that die back and return year after year. As much as you might want perennial plants to come with instructions that say, “low maintenance,” that tag-line frequently implies too much optimism, eventually translating to unacceptable amounts of bare spots and dead plants in a planting bed.
Diblik’s Version of Easy-Care Gardens
Early in his book, Roy Diblik covers the minutiae of growing conditions and chores gardeners face. The author tackles siting planting beds around both newly constructed homes and where gardeners are rejuvenating old landscapes; Diblik fully explains his well-practiced techniques.
Long-time gardeners are in for a thorough review, and new gardeners will find refreshing advice; no matter where you are on the spectrum of garden experience, the many nuggets of information will yield a higher return of enjoyment out of your gardens.
Reminders range from watering perennials while still in their pots and breaking up lower roots just after un-potting, before planting in the ground; tried-and-true method of using newspaper and leaf compost to kill sod where you want a planting bed placed; and suppressing weeds and ridding the landscape of this unwanted vegetation.
The author calls attention to the Canada thistle, field bindweed, and quackgrass, and is a preview to the weeds in the care and maintenance chapter. He explains how they grow and how tackling weeds reduces garden chores.
Perennial Plants and Garden Plans
You will not find hardiness zones listed with each plant description as is traditionally done in other plant books. Diblik describes the perennials’ acceptable hardiness range as fitting into the northern half of the United States: covering northern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin, north into Minnesota, east into New York, west into Iowa and south into Missouri.
For gardeners who like the numbers – most of the plants are hardy into zones 4 and 5 with a smaller group in 3 and as far south as zones 8 and 9.
The plant pages cover the usual flower and foliage descriptions, their mature sizes, and bloom times. I found Diblik’s “First Date” an unexpected treat, which gives readers a percentage to measure against for mingling a two-plant combination.
The garden plans section start with layouts divided between sun and shade. Diblik made the grids to fit planting beds that measure 10 x 14 feet, but other gardeners can cut these in half for tinier gardens or double a whole plan for a larger landscape.
Of particular interest are the shade plants that are found in woodland gardens; the author lists nine Carex species and, among his garden grids, sedges that drift and mix in low light.
Diblik has said he prefers bulbs that are species and less hybridized; in the plant section is a wide range of Allium and a couple of Narcissus, but other early bulbs are part of the grid plans, too.
Plantsman Roy Diblik
Roy Diblik is a plantsman and garden designer; he has studied plants most of his adult life, eventually leading him to being the inspiration behind Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago. In the beginning, Diblik was an outdoor education teacher in Chicago and moved on to grounds supervisor for St. Charles Park in Illinois.
Diblik is co-owner of Northwind Perennial Farm, a nursery in Burlington, Wisconsin, south and a little west of Milwaukee. The niche plant nursery entices plant lovers and students of horticulture, alike; where visitors can observe Diblik’s plant communities in person.
Diblik is the plantsman who discovered the switchgrass seedling, Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind.’ The ornamental grass provides interesting points during all seasons of the year including fall and winter; as Diblik advises, gardeners should not cut Northwind back until March.
The nine profiles of plant professionals at the end of The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden give readers a greater perspective on what drives Roy Diblik’s brand of gardening. The “folks,” as Diblik calls them, are the gurus of the garden world that he followed from afar or, sometimes both, worked hand-in-glove with over the years.
Northern Gardeners Using Roy Diblik’s Perennial Book
The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden is a 240-page soft cover garden book; Timber Press published it in 2014.
The author has put into his book 62 grid-drawn plans, 72 individual plant profiles, and his garden-tested techniques for growing the landscapes. It teems with 140 color photos of plants and planting beds. The back-of-the-book index is a detailed tool for looking up information and the Recommended Reading page is thorough.
Though not specifically made as a research book with graph paper, the pages offer enough white space for gardeners to make notations among the plants and the plans.
Interested readers may locate The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden using ISBN: 978-1-60469-334-8.
The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden Book
Roy Diblik’s The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden may sound familiar to gardeners who follow the plantsman’s work. Small Perennial Gardens: The Know Maintenance Approach was his first go at publishing a book of his plant community combinations, however, in a much smaller format. The plant and garden images were watercolor drawings, and The American Nurseryman published it in 2008.
Now, The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden is out – with more ideas and images that depict Roy Diblik’s designs and philosophies in the garden. For gardeners who live in the northern half of the United States, and who are making landscape plans, Roy Diblik’s book is an excellent resource to use alongside when writing out garden ideas and plant lists.
Roy Diblik’s plant combinations grow into well-knitted perennial gardens that make inspired landscapes for strolling in and throughout your yard.