Trees and Shrubs Simplified
Trees and Shrubs for Dummies, by Ann Whitman (IDG Books, 2000; $17), is a concise, sometimes humorous book that will help prevent serious landscaping mistakes such as planting under a power line or too near a septic system. Author Whitman thoroughly explains how to create a landscape plan that's suited to your home site, whether hilly or flat. She offers suggestions on how to solve common problems, such as screening traffic or creating a private retreat. The book, written for both novices and experts, includes dozens of photos of recommended plants and contains lists of sources for many of them.
Favorite or New Plant
With its huge, showy, trumpet-shaped flowers, amaryllis (Hippeastrum) makes a flamboyant indoor plant. Planted now, bulbs will flower within a few weeks.
Amaryllis are available already planted, but you can pot up your own. Choose a pot 2 inches bigger than the diameter of the bulb, plant the bulb so that the pointy end is up and half of it sticks up out of the soil, water, and wait. Thick, sturdy stalks will be topped with white, red, pink, or apricot blooms, some edged or striped with a contrasting color.
After blooming finishes, cut the flower stem off and continue to water, and leaves will grow. After the leaves die back, let the soil dry out, and put the pot away in a dark, dry place. Next fall bring it out into bright light, water, and wait for the magic to begin again.