Coastal and Tropical South
Native Plants of the South
Sally Wasowski wrote Gardening with Native Plants of the South in 1994 with Andy Wasowski, her photographer-husband. (They went on to write the popular tome, Requiem for a Lawnmower, which enlightened many readers.) Sally is a landscape designer and founding member of the Texas Native Plant Society, and an authority on her subject. Their groundbreaking book has been released in a trade (paperback) format, and it is a good addition to any gardener's bookshelf in our regions. While not all the plants profiled in this book will grow everywhere, you'll find some for your area. At the very least, you will be educated by Sally's explanations of native traits and the zones, or types of habitat that exist in the South. By knowing where a plant hails from, you gain insight into its potential for your garden. That's the beauty of this book and why it was worth re-releasing. From Taylor Trade Publishing, $22.95, www.rlpgtrade.com.
Favorite or New Plant
Gaillardia puchella must get its common name from a textile lover. The plant spreads its blanket anywhere there's sun, but performs best in very well-drained and sandy soils. The flowers do have shades of the Southwest. The petals are deep orange, rusty red and golden yellow, surrounding dark purple-red centers. The texture of both leaves and plants is downright hairy, with stiff bristles, rather like the scratchy but beautiful horse blankets bought on a trip to Mexico. Whatever you call it, gaillardia really grows, has a nice aroma on a hot day, and may reseed in some situations. Otherwise, it is a short-lived perennial or an annual and deserves a place in every garden.