Plant Swatch is a portable folding plant booklet that’s slim enough to fit in a pocket, purse or glove box to have at your fingertips in a moment’s notice.
It was developed by Phillip Fourie, an artist and amateur gardener from South Africa who moved to Britain and then Canada. Coming from a tropical region full of colour and with a mother who was a florist that could work magic with vivid hues, he was pleasantly amazed at the shades of green to be found in Canada. His only disappointment, which is common to many new people in this country, is the broken pattern of colour during winter when it is hard to distinguish shades here.
To help with his winter blues, he would visit the Royal Botanical Gardens where he could enjoy the display of soothing tropical plants that were familiar and reminders of a boyhood place far away.
The average nursery carries 5,000 plants or so which is overwhelming to most gardeners looking to make purchases. Fourie found books and magazines helpful but what he really wanted was a guide to take with him that would show the hardiness zone and possibilities to feed his craving for colour.
As an artist he had colour swatches just like the ones you’d find at the paint store and so he built on this idea to develop the Plant Swatch. Academic sources said this project wouldn’t work but with persistence he found an ally and co-author in Steve Loewen who with a B.Sc. Agr. Degree has worked as a plant breeder for Stokes Seeds and is a researcher and teacher at the University of Guelph.
Gardeners, new or experienced generally like to choose their plants initially by colour which is what makes the Plant Swatch so unique. The pages fan out to view the shades of each colour for a selection and the information for hardiness zone, height and width plus growing requirements are listed for each variety.
There are 231 tried and true illustrated perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees included that very reputable sources took part in choosing. Some plants were chosen because they were award winning and others as suggestions from specific plant societies.
The USDA zones were used which lists minimum and maximum temperatures that most Canadian nurseries use anyway for their hardiness perimeters.
Plant Swatch covers 80-90% of approved plant lists for several colleges which are looking at possibly adopting it as a type of text book for first year horticultural students.
Plant Swatch makes an ideal fun gift, especially for new gardeners but I know seasoned ones who always like a new gadget like this to help them choose plants.
Visit Plant Swatch for more information and to order.
What do you think? Would you like a Plant Swatch for yourself or to gift to a brand new gardener?
Mr. Fourie has graciously donated 5 Plant Swatches to be given away on my blog. You don't have to be a follower but you do have to leave a comment and at the end say please enter me - 3 magic words to have your name thrown in the pot. The lucky winners will be drawn on March 21.
Sorry, the giveaway is only for Canadian and US residents.
I've had a Plant Swatch for a few years and love it; good luck in winning one!