Whether you're a seasoned gardener who has tilled the soil for decades or a new gardener who can't quite get used to dirt under your fingernails, one thing's certain: spring marks a new beginning in everyone's garden. Some of this change is planned creating a new bed for mixed plantings or renovating a perennial border. But there are also unforeseen changes plants that don't like where they've been placed and require moving in order to improve their growth. Fortunately, several new books coming out this season can help you handle the changes spring has in store for your garden.

Taunton Press, which produces Fine Gardening magazine, has come out with a series of four Design Guides (each priced at $17.95) that offer hands-on advice and inspirational ideas from more than 50 of the country's top landscape architects, garden designers, horticulturists and master gardeners on the subjects they know best. Creating Beds and Borders offers innovative ideas for eye-catching island beds and borders. Beautiful color photos and easy-to-read text explain the steps involved for building a bed without the usual back-breaking work, selecting the best border plants to achieve continuous bloom from spring to fall, getting more blooms from your perennials, and using foliage plants to create more color and drama in your flower beds. In Landscaping Your Home, the experts show you how to evaluate your property and draw a personalized landscape plan, create a welcoming entry area, design a landscape that suits your home and lifestyle, plant for small spaces and create attractive garden rooms and spaces for family activities. As a resource for present and future projects, Taunton also offers Designing With Plants and Exploring Garden Style. These four guides will make an excellent addition to any gardener's library.

Rhododendrons and Azaleasby Geoff Bryant will insure immediate gratification in your newly designed flower beds. Along with a section on the most popular species and varieties, Bryant includes information on the uses of rhododendrons in the garden, their cultivation, soil, nutrition, pests, diseases, pruning and propagation. His 95 color photos will convince you that these are must-have plants that really do have it all. For help with other species, Firefly Books has published a new series of specialty titles focusing on specific plants, including Orchids and Hibiscus, all of which present information quickly and thoroughly.

Have you ever visited a flower show or nursery center wishing you'd brought a quick-reference plant guide to look up valuable culture information before you purchased plants? As a rule, plant guides are far too bulky to tuck under the arm and consult while meandering through flower beds, but now there's an excellent resource to serve this purpose the American Horticultural Society Great Plant Guide. This is the perfect compact, quick-reference book, containing more than 1,000 color photos and detailed descriptions of 3,000 shrubs, trees, climbers, bulbs, perennials, annuals and biennials for every garden situation. In addition, this handy little guide offers plant lists for problem sites, colorful foliage and fruit, small gardens, containers, hanging baskets, flowering bulbs, winter interest, hedges, groundcovers and scented foliage. There are also hardiness zone and heat zone maps. Before you leave for your next flower show, pack this guide to take along. You'll use it continually throughout the growing season. Ortho's classic Home Gardener's Problem Solver is out in its newest edition, and you'll want this updated text for your bookshelves. This home gardener reference has been adapted from the huge professional edition usually seen in garden centers. Just as comprehensive as the professional edition, it features 400 pages of problem-solving techniques for lawns, bulbs, groundcovers, flowers, shrubs, vines, vegetables and fruits. There's even a section on houseplants and insect pest remedies to keep houseplants disease-free. If you're new to gardening and don't want to learn the art through painful experience, Ortho's Home Gardener's Problem Solver can reduce your learning curve and insure that your plants live longer and stay healthy.

Pat Regel is the author of The Houseplant Survival Guide.

 

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