Friday October 31, 2008 Passalong Plants Book Review

Helen with Allan Armitage with Felder peeking over Allan's shoulder

Helen Yoest with Allan Armitage and Felder peeking over Allan's Shoulder

I’ve had Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing in my garden library for a long time.  The book was first published in 1993. I recommend it often.  I’ve spent some time with Steve and I’ve met Felder.  Actually, Felder bought me a drink while in Portland to help me celebrate another successful Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour.

Both Steve and Felder have a fun and funky sense of humor…Felder’s humor is deeply rooted in the south; Steve’s got here just in time. 

When in a funk, I’m likely to pick up the book and just thumb through for a laugh.  Or, I’ll think of a personal favorite and see if it’s listed as one of their favs as well.  Reading their personal history with the plant always makes me smile.

Their writing style is similar.  They may not agree with this summation, but I often have to check the margin to remind myself who’s doing the writing.  The margin simply has either an SB or a FR to indicate the credit. 

I also found it interesting when talking with Steve about the collaboration of this book.  If I’m not mistaken, they only met once to discuss the book.  The rest was over the phone – Internet wasn’t prevalent at the time.  When speaking with Steve and Felder, it hit me how they can write similar thoughts, but verbally they couldn’t be more different.  Steve is short and sweet – no word is wasted.  Felder likes to spin a tale even when it’s just discussing the time of day. 

If you ask Steve for the time, he will tell you, “2:00,” leaving the asker to decide if it’s AM or PM.  For Felder, it would go something like this, “If you look to the western sky, you will see that it’s past noon and if you take into account day light savings time, the fact that I just ate mah dinner, and I’m feelin nappish, I would put it somewhere between 1:50 and 2:10.  This reminds me of the time when….. ”

It belongs in every southern gardener’s garden library, if not for the reference, than for the personalities the book offers.  Keep passing them along!



  1. tina said

    I will have to look for this book. I’ve heard of it. I do have Felder’s “Tough Plants for a Northern Garden” , a gift from TC, and I love it! He adds so many personal touches and stories. I bet this book is very similar.

  2. How far north does “Tough Plants for a Northern Garden” go? I’m not familar withit, but like his books. I like books that give a person touch to them. Them make them real and not so sterile. Thanks for the tip. Helen

  3. AnnA said

    I enjoyed this reminder of a good book and the personalities to go along with it. I enjoy your style of writing too. I am a spin a tale kind of person. I have often been guilty of adding a little whimsy to the facts.

    Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine! I’m an NCer too.

  4. You must be a born southern then ‘cuz we do like to spin tales. What zone in NC?

  5. Boy is that true. I love that book and have suggested it for everyone who tries to garden here or in the south (we’re almost the south). In fact, my friend just moved to Alabama, and I suggested she buy it. Great review.~~Dee

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