Caring For Perennials
Inside Caring for Perennials: What To Do and When To Do It, by Janet MacUnovich (Storey Books, 1997; $18) you'll find a season-by-season guide to creating and maintaining a topflight garden with a minimum of effort. There's general advice for doing preventative maintenance, mulching, dividing, staking, deadheading, and composting. Chapters on pruning, edging, weeding, watering, and fertilizing round out the book, which focuses on 130 of the most popularly grown perennials. It's a great how-to book for beginning gardeners and contains helpful reminders for veteran gardeners.
Favorite or New Plant
A Shrub for All Seasons
With lovely summer flowers, spectacular fall foliage, and beautiful bark in winter, oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) earns high honors in my book because of its three-season interest. In my Pacific Northwest garden, it thrives in the filtered shade of cedar trees.
Oakleaf hydrangea matures at about 6 feet, growing nearly as wide as it is high. Its leaves are reminiscent of the mighty oak, strikingly veined and occurring in various sizes on the same plant. White blooms appear in July, age to a deep pink, and then persist into winter as brown seed heads. In autumn the foliage turns a deep burgundy, with the leaves persisting into early winter. As winter deepens, the shrub's bare bones are enhanced by attractive exfoliating bark.
This shrub is easy to grow and maintenance-free, providing three-season interest. I can't imagine my garden without it!