In Hardy Perennials: A Complete Guide To Care and Cultivation (Sterling Publishing, 1998, $19.95), gardening expert Richard Bird describes in detail some fascinating plants and suggests ways to use them in the garden. If you're looking for new ideas for shady or woodland and cottage gardens, this book will help guide your plant choices.
Favorite or New Plant
Amaryllis is available around the holidays, makes a great gift, and is easy to grow. The large bulb sends out tall flowering stalks with six-petaled flowers before it develops its strap-like leaves. You can grow amaryllis in moderately bright light, in average-to-cool indoor temperatures. Direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and blossoms so keep your plant away from south or west facing windows. Pot your amaryllis in well draining potting soil and fertilize with a general purpose plant food when the leaves begin to grow. Amaryllis doesn't like wet feet, so allow the potting soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
Remove the old, dying leaves as they yellow and shrivel. The bulb can be stored in a cool basement when the plant becomes dormant and brought back into bloom after its resting period.