Annuals with Style
In their book Annuals with Style; Design Ideas from Classic to Cutting Edge (Taunton Press, 2000; $19.95), Michael A. Ruggiero and Thomas Christopher capture the spirit of creativity as they advise on how best to use the many kinds of annuals now widely available. Scale, texture, form, and color are all considered when using annuals in pots, hanging baskets, or in flower beds. The basics -- soil preparation, mulching, watering, pinching, and fertilizing -- are thoroughly discussed, and an encyclopedia of essential annuals provides the basics as well as plentiful color photographs. Both beginning and experienced gardeners will love this book.
Favorite or New Plant
Penstemons are becoming a favorite in my garden. They are a magnet for hummingbirds and butterflies, which is just fine with me! One of my favorites is Penstemon pinifolius or pineleaf penstemon. It has wonderful, orange-red blooms in summer and handsome, needle-like foliage that it retains all year-round. It reseeds readily so it makes a nice filler or ground cover, and it transplants easily. Plant it in a sunny location in well-drained soil. It is a water-thrifty perennial that does just fine during droughty conditions.