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Maurizio Sajeva & Mariangela Costanzo - Succulents: The Illustrated Dictionary

I was having a conversation with another feng shui author, and mentioned that I frequently recommend succulents for window boxes, etcetera. She gasped and said, "How can you recommend those spiky things?" Without thinking, I bluntly replied, "You don't know plants!" She confessed that she didn't, and I began a litany that started with the common jade plant and the romantic silver ruffles. If you think succulents are spiky, please read this book. There are so many exquisite rounded-leaf succulents, and they are so easy to grow. And that's exactly why I recommend them. You generally have to work hard to kill a succulent --- they'll take a lot of neglect, although most respond beautifully to considerate treatment. I sometimes water my Crassula "Morgan's Beauty" every day, and it looks ever so lovely in the Relationship corner of our home. I collect vintage pottery (Roseville, McCoy, etcetera) and feng shui says collections must be used. Succulents make ideal plants for small, interesting planters.

Yes, this books shows many plants that you wouldn't dream of shaking hands with. My recommendation is --- look at the pictures, but don't grow them. Instead, grow the succulents with rounded leaves, and this book illustrates hundreds of them --- sedums, crassulas, darling little conophytums (Cone plants), kalanchoes…. You need not have a green thumb to grow remarkably beautiful succulents. Use this book to make some choice selections. The Crassula pyramidalis on page 86 is stunning and quite unusual.

There are over twelve thousand excellent color photographs (six per page) with brief descriptions, including place of origin. No common names are given, and no cultivation instruction. The book is an illustrated dictionary and doesn't pretend to be other. It is perfect for selecting unique, easy, feng-shui friendly plants.

Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, 1994, (800) 327-5680, www.timberpress.com, 0-88192-398-2, 240 pages, color photographs, paperback, $29.95

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