Plants may be forgiving if we're negligent about pruning them, but you may find it hard to forgive yourself if you remove all the flower buds by pruning at the wrong time. Pruning Trees, Shrubs & Vines, by Karan Davis Cutler (Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Inc., 2003; $9.95), will keep you in line. It explains and illustrates many types of pruning cuts, and details the techniques required for many different plants. And the handy size of the 6" x 9" book makes it easy to keep it close at hand for reference when you head outside.
Favorite or New Plant
Daphne 'Carol Mackie'
Daphnes are appreciated mostly for their fragrant flowers, and 'Carol Mackie' (Daphne x burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie') has that and more going for it. Small pink flowers in spring have a heady fragrance, and they often reappear in fall. But even without flowers, the semi-evergreen shrub is worth growing for its leaves with creamy-colored edges. Plant this beauty near a walkway or a seating area where you can appreciate it close up. It typically grows about 3 feet tall and wide, but well-tended plants in rich soil can grow even larger. Sometimes 'Carol Mackie' will up and die on you without apparent cause, but it's worth growing for any length of time. Hardy to zone 4, daphnes grow best in full sun.