David Mizejewski is the manager of the Backyard Wildlife Habitat program of the National Wildlife Federation, so you can rest assured he's the right guy to author this new book. Attracting Birds, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife (Creative Homeowner Press, 2004; $12.95) is a family-friendly guide to enjoying and enhancing the world in your own backyard. Projects are well-explained and illustrated with plenty of pictures for clarity and inspiration. Also included is a nice glossary and instructions for gaining NWF certification of home habitats. It makes a great gift for young families, teachers, and anyone interested in making more of the sounds and sights right outside the back door.
Favorite or New Plant
Another easy perennial for our region is french hollyhock (Malva sylvestris). Rather shiny, neat leaves are more closely spaced and create a denser form than true hollyhocks. The plants are an old Southern favorite, noted for striped flowers in shades of lavender, which is probably why the plant is sometimes seen labeled M. zebrina. Well-drained soil, plenty of light or half a day of direct sun, and room to bush out will make a good home for french hollyhocks. The flowers reseed easily, and those plants will bloom the second and subsequent years after they sprout.