Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Best Garden Design by Chris Young (Firefly Publishing, 2010, $35) is a photographic journal of creative ideas from past Chelsea Flower Shows. The book is divided into sections that include entrances, paths and boundaries, outdoor living areas, water features, lighting and most important, sustainability. There are beautiful photographs throughout the book that illustrate container gardening, pruning styles, artistic new uses for unusual materials, and ways to use color. Each section is accompanied by "Expert Tips" on how to achieve a particular look or use a technique in your own garden. There is plenty of useful information and even more inspiration in this glorious publication.
Favorite or New Plant
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is a biennial flower that is very attractive to hummingbirds. It hails from Europe and was brought over by early settlers. All parts of this handsome plant are poisonous if ingested in large quantities. However, digitalis has been used as a heart medication for centuries. The flowers form on 3-6 foot spikes. Individual flowers resemble the fingers of a glove, hence the common name. Digitalis will seed itself easily throughout the garden. The flowers of the volunteers are usually lighter in color than the parent plant. Digitalis requires moderate water and will survive in a variety of soil conditions including clay so long as it is well drained. After the initial flower fades, cut the spike back to generate another, smaller, bloom.