Northern Garden Symphony

Combining Hardy Perennials for Blooms all Season

By Warbelow, Cyndie

8 x 10, 304 p.

Format: Paper and electronic

Price: $29.95

Published: 2021

Put the power of a garden planning pro to work for you! Using northern gardens as the venue, long-time Alaska garden designer Cyndie Warbelow examines sequential bloom times of ornamental perennials as a tool in garden design.

The idea of sequential blooming is similar to the workings of a musical symphony: a portion of all plants in the garden are blooming at all times, even though they are not all blooming at the same time. Given that each perennial plant blooms for a limited and specific period of time during the growing season, it is crucial that a garden be designed with sequential bloom times in mind. Warbelow shows you how to select plants, plan, and plant to compose your own northern garden symphony.

Cyndie Warbelow has lived in Alaska all her life. Founder and long-time operator of Fairbanks, Alaska’s world-class Plant Kingdom nursery, she has installed extensive perennial display beds for use as demonstration gardens for nursery customers and perennial design classes.


The mystery of how to have continuous color in a perennial garden has been carefully and methodically solved in Cyndie’s book, Northern Garden Symphony.  Plant sellers and plant buyers alike will find it an invaluable asset when planning, growing, and maintaining a new or established perennial garden.  Reading it, with its charts and beautiful photos, will coax you into a plan of action for your own garden.  You will be doing yourself a favor when you add Northern Garden Symphony to your gardening library!
—Nancy Macfarlane, Danamac Acres Greenhouse, Owner 1980-2012, Palmer, Alaska

On a blustery, gray day in April, a friend took me to The Plant Kingdom Nursery in Fairbanks. Nothing in my years of haunting nurseries prepared me for the incredible riot of color that greeted me as I entered Cyndie Warbelow’s greenhouses. Her unabashed and incredibly creative color sense was on full display, especially in the vast array of hanging baskets. It was too early in the season to have the opportunity to enjoy her perennial display gardens, but now, through Northern Garden Symphony, her much-needed and photo-filled book on perennial gardening in Interior Alaska, we can all experience them. Cyndie freely shares her talent and techniques for creating vibrant and well-designed perennial gardens in a part of the world that many Outsiders think of as hostile to plants.

After carefully guiding her readers through the concepts of designing perennial gardens, including emphasis on bloom succession, balance, continuity, and the importance of eye movement, Cyndie has added a unique and incredibly useful series of charts depicting the attributes of more than 200 hardy perennials. She then takes the next vital step and demonstrates exactly how to use the charts by providing examples of five varied gardens. Moreover, Cyndie includes excellent descriptions of each of the plants. The result is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process that every gardener can employ whether a first-timer or an old hand looking for fresh ideas.

As a true native of Interior Alaska who grew up surrounded by plants in a family of gardeners, Cyndie is the ideal guide for anyone who desires a dazzling and enticing garden as a respite from long cold winters. In Northern Garden Symphony, her enthusiasm for perennials and gardening in the Interior will encourage and empower all gardeners to try their hand at creating a perennial garden of their own.
—Brenda C. Adams, author of award-winning Cool Plants for Cold Climates as well as There’s a Moose in My Garden, speaker, educator and international award-winning garden designer.

The author writes so clearly and positively that even the most timid folks should have the confidence to try their hands at perennial gardening.  She makes it sound like fun, like putting together a pretty puzzle.  Warbelow writes with such joy and optimism that the reader is drawn in and on.  I didn’t want to put the book down.  This is a welcome addition to the literature on northern gardening.  Well done.  Reading Cyndie’s book is like talking to her in person.  She’s brilliant, and writes with humor.  My favorite kind of writer. 
—Les Brake, Coyote Garden, Willow, Alaska

This book is a wonderfully written and researched garden tell-all---engaging not just for Alaska green thumbs but for any garden enthusiasts in the northern hemisphere.  Loved it . . . simply brilliant!
—Kim Thistle, Owner, The Greenhouse, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

 Northern Garden Symphony is a book written with great experience and knowledge and with beautiful pictures to give an idea of what opportunities there are to grow perennials in gardens and borders in colder climates.  This is a climate that most people are thinking is one where you cannot grow any perennials.  For me Nico Rijnbeek, a perennial grower from the Netherlands with experience for more than fifty-five years, it has also opened my eyes.  I want to tell everybody: please read this book to get more knowledge about perennial gardens and borders and the number of combinations you can make.
—Nico Rijnbeek, Rijnbeek and Son – Perennials Boskoop, Holland

 Northern Garden Symphony would be a valuable resource for anyone planning a perennial garden in Interior Alaska, as well as a wonderful resource for existing gardeners looking for inspiration!
—Dennis Rogers, A perennial gardener continuing the legacy of his life partner, the talented plantsman, Ken McFarland, Fairbanks, Alaska

 I have never been a skeptic about Alaskan gardening.  In fact, when I visit that great state, I come away thinking that gardens there are every bit as beautiful as gardens in Cornwall, UK and Atlanta, GA.

However, reading through Cyndie’s common sense approach to far-north gardening and seeing her spectacular photography leaves me speechless.  She not only explains the plants that work, but also takes us through the planning steps for designing a successful garden.  If that was not enough, she has prepared in-depth plant lists that allow us to quickly find information about the plants that succeed in the far north.

In summary, Cyndie has shown us how to garden in Fairbanks, but this stunning book is valuable for any northern gardeners in Canada and the United States.  I can’t wait to visit.
—Dr. Allan Armitage, Professor Emeritus of Horticulture, University of Georgia

Inspiring and informative! Wonderful descriptive photos, charts providing progressive bloom times, heights, colors, plant information.  This book provides for all gardening levels.  Cyndie’s extensive plant and design knowledge shines through in Northern Garden Symphony!
—Patricia Wolczko, A Long Time Interior Alaska Gardener

An Alaskan summer would not be complete for gardeners and landscapers without a trip to the Plant Kingdom greenhouses and a walk-about through their perennial trial gardens. Cyndie Warbelow’s talent lies in her grounding in basic plant biology layered with a gift of art and music that have allowed her to create stunning landscapes using hardy plants as her palette and northern soils as her canvas. Cyndie shows that spectacular gardens can be the rule, not the exception in northern environments. Her book is filled with lists of hardy perennials, methods of design, and examples of garden layouts that will help gardeners create their own summer-long perennial showcase gardens. It is a well-balanced idea book for novice as well as seasoned northern gardeners.
—Dr. Patricia S. Holloway, Professor Emerita, Horticulture, Horticultural Consultant, A.F. Farmer, LLC, University of Alaska Fairbanks