All of Dr. Allan Armitage's many reference works are top picks in my library, but the newly published Armitage's Garden Perennials, Second Edition, Newly Revised and Updated (Timber Press, 2011) is an essential for every level gardener, from the wannabe to the expert. Many of the 1250 plants featured are old and familiar favorites, but more than 300 are new to this edition. Each entry is highlighted with scientific and common names, as well as vital zone and cultural information. But it's Armitage's playful humor combined with the plain talk gardeners love that make this book special. Throw in 1300 color photographs, along with a collection of lists for specific plant situations to reduce costly plant-choice mistakes, and you've got a garden classic.
Favorite or New Plant
'Denver Daisy' Black-eyed Susan
I was happy to find Rudbeckia 'Denver Daisy' near the top of UGA's 2011 "Chasing the Flags" list. This plant, which was introduced in 2008 for the 150th anniversary of its namesake, is both sturdy and carefree. Though it looks like a small sunflower with its dark center circles, 'Denver Daisy' is a cross between Rudbeckia hirta and Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun'. Grow this perennial in enriched soil with good drainage and full sun, and you can expect a multitude of 4 to 6-inch diameter blooms on plants that reach 18 to 20-inches tall and 12 to15-inches wide.