To use this spreadsheet, you have to know some basics of Microsoft Excel, particularly how to sort the sheet by one or more columns, and how to add a value to one field or another so that you can sort the chart this way and that. If you're uncertain, a safe thing is to save the spreadsheet under another name, and play with that one; if you mess up, you can always go back to the original.
The information in this spreadsheet comes from a variety of sources, mostly horticulture books and nursery catalogs. I have only grown a very few of the plants listed, and cannot vouch for the information presented here.
When I started collecting information for this spreadsheet, it did not occur to me to make a note of where I got the information on each plant at the same time. Please do not ask me where Calluna Vulgaris 'Mrs. Elmer Turveydrop' can be seen or purchased, or where I got the idea that it flowers in May. I read it in a book, okay?
The colors in the spreadsheet are not accurate; they are only cartoons, to help plan colors through the seasons. You have to know the plant to know if red in January means red flowers or red foliage, and you can bet that it isn't going to be as red as what you see on the screen either way.
The first two columns in the spreadsheet are the genus, species, and common name of the plants; the next twelve are the colors through the months of the year. The next column is the plant's height in centimeters, and the next is the hardiness zone.
TIP: If you already know you are always going to be gardening in zone 7, you may as well delete every entry with a higher value right now.
There are a few ways to use this spreadsheet to help you plan your garden, I'll give an example: Go through the list and for every plant you like put some character in one of the blank columns to the right, let's say column R. Column R is your wish list column. Sort the spreadsheet by column R, and see all your favorites together. Sort them by column O for height, to help decide which cultivars to plant in front of the others. You can use more columns for whether the plant is available at your favorite nursery, how much it costs, if you want to use it in the front yard or the back yard, whatever.
A final note: I would prefer that you not share the spreadsheet or the secret URL for it, although referring people to me or to my web page so that they can download it themselves is fine. The reasons are simple: I like to know how many people are interested in it, and if I have the email address of the people who have downloaded it, I can notify them when I add new entries, usually once a year, when I get new catalogs.
Let me know if you find this useful, or if you have any ideas for improving it. It's meant as a tool for planning your garden, though, so eventually you should leave the computer and go out and plant something!
Alan Turner, firstname.lastname@example.org