If you're planning on visiting friends in the Hamptons this summer and are wondering what might make a nice hostess gift, consider this 129-page book. It is filled with useful information for gardeners in the East, but, alas, less in Southern California.
Though many of the more than 100 shrubs covered in the book will grow well here (most plants do, after all), it would be a shame to rely on this book when designing a local garden. There are complete entries on various types of rhododendrons, camellias and hydrangea -- all lovely, if not entirely inspired choices -- but there is nothing on abutilons, acacias, or melaleucas, perhaps more interesting options. It is a nice surprise to see space given to ceanothus, a rare native Californian that makes the cut.
Although the selection of shrubs may seem somewhat random, the author whittled the list down to plants that offer, he writes, "ornamental value, cultural adaptability, pest resistance, and function in the landscape." They are all beautiful plants and the small but enticing photographs might inspire Californians to forgo the Mediterranean look altogether.