Western Mountains and High Plains
A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web
Teaming with Microbes; A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis (Timber Press, 2006; $24.95), is a book that emphasizes the importance of a healthy soil that's teeming with life. And it's not just the worms and insect life but a multitude of bacteria, fungi, and various other microorganisms. Bring dead soils back to life by learning how to use composts, mulches, and compost teas.
Favorite or New Plant
The beauty of redleaf rose (Rosa glauca) is its foliage -- blue-gray leaves on reddish stems -- and the persistent small rose hips that remain attractive through much of winter. These hips are a source of food for wildlife in winter. This shrub rose can grow to 5 feet or more, but take advantage of the long stems and train it as a climber if you like. Single, pink flowers with white centers and golden stamens are welcome in spring. It is one of the few roses that can tolerate light shade.