Northern & Central Midwest
If I had one garden book to use and nothing else, The Essential Garden Maintenance Workbook, by Rosemary Alexander (Timber Press, 2006) would be it. Alexander has a stunning reputation, and this book is nothing short of magical. She discusses everything from soil to garden plan to pruning to a season-by-season list of garden tasks. The book is destined to find its way to the garden again and again because it has simply everything any gardener needs.
Favorite or New Plant
Calico Ornamental Pepper
Ornamental pepper 'Black Pearl' is a beauty but new 'Calico' is even prettier. Its variegated purple, cream, and green foliage is a beautiful foil for the glossy black fruits. As most peppers, Calico is quite drought hardy and a perfect companion for those sun-loving herbs in containers and the herb garden. The peppers are edible but extremely hot, so eating is not recommended. They do lend themselves to a spicy herbal vinegar when combined with garlic and thyme.