Western Mountains and High Plains
Favorite or New Plant
Rose-of-Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), also known as shrub althea, is one of my favorite old-fashioned shrubs of summer. Its eye-catching blooms appear in late summer when other shrubs start to wane. Flowers can be single, semi-double, or double. It grows 6 to 12 feet tall and about 6 to 10 feet wide. Plant in full sun for the best flowering. Hummingbirds love to visit the flowers on their migration from the mountains to the plains.
Tool or Gardening Product
Here's a hoe that has a razor sharp blade that slices through the soil and the roots of weeds with ease. The collinear hoe, designed by Eliot Coleman, is well balanced and so lightweight your wrist won't tire as you weed the garden. Use it in shrub borders and vegetable gardens, along fencerows, and in other areas to get the weeds before they get ahead of you and go to seed.
Place the hoe on the ground where weeds invade, move your hand swiftly, and zip it under the soil's surface, making the young weeds vanish into the soil. It's great for cultivating the soil to break soil compaction. Johnny's Selected Seeds (http://www.johnnyseeds.com/) sells this hoe for about $35.