Coastal and Tropical South
"If there is one thing I've learned through my life, it is that green is the color of serenity." So Tovah Martin tells us in the Introduction to The New Terrarium: Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature by Tovah Martin (Clarkson Potter, 2009). Like Martin's other writing, this one draws the reader in from the very first page, and the stunning photographs reinforce the mental images she draws to charm us. She covers the how-to and explains the why-to thoroughl, covering plants and their care, capturing each season under glass with whimsy and solid horticulture. Maintenance and care chapters have delightfully true names like "Multiplication" and "Recuperation." Martin illustrates how to capture each season through the use of plants and terrarium designs. She was recently featured on CBS Sunday Morning; video is available at their website http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/sunday/main3445.shtml by searching the program archives (January 16, 2011: The Growing Trend of Terrariums; correspondent Serena Altschul). Get the book, watch the video, and resist if you can. The rest of us will be getting reacquainted with terrariums.
Favorite or New Plant
Red Abyssinian Banana
Previous generations considered banana plants and canna lilies perfect for growing dense hedges or filling empty space with coarse leaves. These days, we have grown to like their style and often grow several of each. Red Abyssinian Banana (Ensete maurelli) may be the epitome of these plants, with loud, painted leaves on a ten foot tall plant. It does not sucker like other bananas, so keeps its place in the bed or big container without becoming a bully. Red A makes seedy fruit, not table quality. Give it well-drained soil, full sun to partial shade, regular watering, and only occasional additions of fertilizer to keep the colors strong and new leaves coming almost year round.