Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Crystal Palaces: American Garden Conservatories, by Anne S. Cunningham and Paul Bennett (Princeton Architectural Press, 2000; $45), is a unique tribute to the conservatories and public greenhouses across the United States. This magnificent book contains 170 lavish color photographs of antique and contemporary glass structures, which are listed in chronological order by opening dates. Each conservatory description includes the year it was opened to the public, its height, its area in square feet, the hours it's open to the public, its location, and a contact number for further information.
Favorite or New Plant
Sweet olive (Osmanthus fragrans) is a winter-blooming evergreen shrub with a haunting fragrance that will welcome guests to your home when planted near an entryway. Unlike the fragrance of daphne or hyacinth, which can be overpowering, osmanthus has a sweet scent that seems to linger on the cold winter air.
Osmanthus is not fussy in its growing requirements, and the flowers are not especially showy. However, if you plant one of these hardy shrubs (hardy to USDA zone 8), you will be rewarded with years of trouble-free maintenance. Osmanthus will adapt to most garden soils. It prefers partial shade and very little water once established, and it can be trained into small trees, hedges, or espaliers. It also makes an excellent container plant.