If you are nostalgic for the past, tired of pampering wimpy plants that are not adapted to our Lower South zone, or simply looking for a great practical education on those plants that have stood the test of time in our zone, you will truly enjoy Heirloom Gardening in the South: Yesterday's Plants for Today's Gardens by William Welch and Greg Grant (AgriLife Research and Extension Service Series, 2011, $29.95). The authors are among the most experienced and respected experts on southern plants. Their personal, laid back practical southern style, their wealth of knowledge and experience, and their contagious enthusiasm make this an especially great read.
Favorite or New Plant
Ornamental Kale 'Red Bor'
There are few winter color plants that can match ornamental kale for cold hardiness. There are several good cultivars on the market, but I'm especially fond of 'Red Bor' with its deep burgundy foliage. This cultivar will reach about 3 feet tall over the winter if provided adequate moisture and nutrients. These plants provide color from fall to mid spring, some even sending up a bloom stalk in spring to make things extra interesting! Feed ornamental kale monthly with a fertilizer high in nitrogen to keep it vigorous and attractive.