Alpine Plants of North America
Some of the loveliest and most delicate plant species are found in the alpine and subalpine regions of the western United States. The climate is harsh, and these plants have evolved by adapting to an amazing diversity of habitats and niches, ranging from rock crevices and loose scree to lush lower alpine meadows.
How do plants survive in alpine regions? The inspiring book Alpine Plants of North America by Graham Nicholls (Timber Press, 2002, $49.95) tells us in rich detail, offering many insights into the patterns of plant life and many clues for growing alpines in the lowlands.
The heart of the book is an alphabetical descriptive catalog of more than 650 species in 54 genera, with cultural information for each. In narrative form, Nicholls shares plant history, cultivation, and propagation techniques, including his own experiences with growing alpine plants in a lowland garden. Enriched with 495 spectacular photos, this book is a useful and comprehensive volume for the reference library of any rock garden enthusiast.
Favorite or New Plant
Truly a tree for all seasons, Amur chokecherry (Prunus maackii) is a stand-out in my garden. Its bright green leaves emerge in May, followed by clusters of mildly fragrant white flowers. Tiny dark fruits follow in midsummer, providing a feast for small birds. In autumn the leaves turn bright yellow and drop early, revealing its graceful form and smooth, shiny, bronze-colored bark. Some of the bark peels and sheds, adding interest to my winter garden.
Chokecherry grows in any soil, prefers exposure to full sunshine, and rarely needs pruning - all plusses for a busy gardener!