The Jewel Box Garden, by Thomas Hobbs (Timber Press, 2004; $34.95) is both plant book and art book. Luminous photos focus on individual plants and small groupings rather than large expanses of gardens. The author tells the story of finding and transforming his Vancouver garden, and he's quite opinionated about plant choices and design. But the text is secondary to the gorgeous photos, which celebrate visual details of plants.
Favorite or New Plant
Alliums have the stature, shape, and color to make them standouts in the late-spring garden. One of the shortest -- at 8 inches tall -- is Allium karataviense 'Ivory Queen', which has 3-inch, white, flower heads nestled in large, blue-green leaves. Drumstick allium (Allium sphaerocephalon) has 1-1/2-inch, purple flower heads and grows about 24 inches high. For a true blue, nothing beats the 22-inch-tall, azure allium (Allium caeruleum), with slightly larger, 2- to 3-inch flower heads. Larger still is the 'Globemaster' allium, whose 8- to 10-inch flower heads tower 4 feet high.
Alliums are carefree plants if you provide them with full sun and well-drained soil. They will multiply so you'll have a bigger show every year. The dried seed heads are also attractive, so you get a lot of mileage from these bulbs.