The Magic Land
If you've always wanted to take a course in garden design but haven't gotten around to it, The Magic Land: Designing Your Own Enchanted Garden by Julie Moir Messervy (Macmillan, 1998; $20) is an excellent substitute. This 150 page book is inspiring, informative and full of insight. Messervy helps you identify the types of gardens or garden features you'd like, and explains how to transform that vision into reality. Along the way she discusses topography, enclosures, how to achieve dynamic balance and resonance in the garden, and more.
Favorite or New Plant
Forest Pansy Redbud
With heart-shaped, blood-red leaves and a graceful branch structure, 'Forest Pansy' redbud (Cercis canadensisis 'Forest Pansy') is a standout all year round. In spring, before the leaves emerge, deep-pink flowers appear on its bare stems. The flowers are followed by shimmering, reddish-purple leaves. The young foliage is so glossy you'd think it was varnished. And, happily, 'Forest Pansy' produces new leaves throughout the season.
In autumn, it is a bouquet of color with leaves turning red, purple, orange and yellow. In winter, after the leaves have fallen, the smooth, brown bark and horizontal branches create a beautiful living sculpture in my landscape. This highly ornamental tree has an informal canopy and looks beautiful against an evergreen background of hemlocks or cedars. It also combines well with evergreen shrubs like rhododendrons and pieris. It prefers full sun or dappled shade and well draining soil.