Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
The Garden Primer
The Garden Primer, by Barbara Damrosch (Workman Publishing Company, 1988; $17.95) is a reference guide filled with useful information. It covers everything from planning, plant requirements, buying and selecting, annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, fruits, bulbs, roses, vines, shrubs, trees, lawns, and ground covers. There is even a section on indoor plants. My favorite thing about this book are the illustrations. Elegant pencil drawings liberally pepper the pages.
Favorite or New Plant
My favorite winter-blooming perennial is the hellebore (Helleborus). These plants thrive in shady, wooded gardens, and discovering a clump of the delicate flowers is like finding a fairy dell. The blooms are light green, cream, white, pale lavender, some with purple veins, depending on variety.
During the summer and fall, hellebores are inconspicuous. It's in the winter and early spring that they reveal their glorious, woodsy flowers. Deer don't bother them, and the flowers are excellent in arrangements.
Plant hellebores under trees in fast-draining, rich soil. If they are suited to the site, they will self-sow.