AS most gardens these days are getting smaller rather than larger, and our time becomes ever more precious, gardening is all about creating maximum effect from minimum space and effort.

And that's exactly what the book, Plants that Span the Seasons, written by Roger Wilson, sets out to explore.

As the planting season is just about upon us gardeners would do well to put a little planning into their purchases before visiting the garden centre, hopefully avoiding the temptation to buy plants purely on the basis of what looks good today.

Take Roger's advice and look ahead to what joy your plants can bring you tomorrow and beyond.

Being a fellow Notcutts garden centre manager, Roger's extensive experience in the garden centre business has enabled him to write his book from the most important viewpoint of all, that of the gardening consumer.

Plants that Span the Seasons is packed with no-nonsense advice on a wide variety of plants, all easily obtainable from garden centres, which enables every gardener to get the most from even the smallest plot.

The choice of plants available these days can be pretty bewildering, even for those inside the trade, but there are many, both old and new, which have plenty to offer and Roger delves right in to find those which provide maximum return throughout the year.

Spring blossom, autumn leaf colour, berries and beautiful bark are all key features to keep your garden alive through the year.

Take the classic flowering cherry for example, a tree which fills countless gardens with bountiful blossom without fail every spring, but in most cases proves to be little more than just a green tree for the remaining 11 months of the year.

Take Roger's advice and choose a variety with even more to offer such as Prunus Shirofugen, a cherry that not only exudes a delightful scent but also has the bonus of an exciting autumn foliage display, and if purchased on a "Sheraton" rootstock will provide beautiful polished bark throughout the entire year.

With so many flowering plants on the market it can be tempting to look no further than blossom when choosing plants.

But consider what part plants can play with their shape and foliage, which sometimes can be even more dramatic.

Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum) is a prime example, which for six months will delight any garden with their mounds of fine cut foliage, followed in many cases with spectacular autumnal tints, and even after this reveal a dainty framework of woven twigs in winter.

Indeed, many other acers are valuable for fine displays of foliage through spring and summer; such as Acer negundo "Flamingo" with its pink tinged young shoots.

Take heed of the many berrying plants, which in most cases follow a glorious display of summer bloom.

The great servant, the pyracantha for example produces a cloud of white bloom well before the shining berries emerge.

Plants that Span the Seasons is available from Notcutts Garden Centre and bookshops, priced at £13.95.