Northern & Central Midwest
Great Garden Companions
If you are seriously interested in trying companion planting, Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden, by Sally Jean Cunningham
(Rodale Books, 2000) is a good place to start, with reliable information not only about the plants themselves, but also about the basic tenets of organic gardening. The author offers easily copied garden plans and an invaluable guide to backyard beneficial insects. Her drawings make identifying good and bad bugs easy. She does a reasonable job of dispelling many myths and separating fact from folklore.
Favorite or New Plant
Hydrangea 'Pinkie Winkie'
I'm not necessarily a hydrangea fan, but Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinkie Winkie' is a knock-out and has changed my way of thinking. This hydrangea grows about six feet tall and the blossoms are in twelve- to fifteen-inch panicles. They start white and gradually turn to amazing shades of rosy pink. Since the panicles continue to grow, white blossoms appear in the same cluster as the darker pink flowers. This woody shrub thrives in full sun to partial shade, and once established, is drought tolerant. The plant grows well in average soil without much care, and can be pruned to keep it in bounds if necessary. The flowers last forever as cut flowers.