Rose guide will have you in blooms

"Right Rose, Right Place" by Peter Schneider (Storey Publishing, $29.95) is the armchair version of running off to rose school for the winter. In this charm-packed compendium of all you need to know about picking the right rose for the right spot in your garden, you'll traipse through 359 minicourses, one rose more luscious than the next.

This also is a rose book for those who can't do dainty. Author Peter Schneider, an expert on the genus Rosa, knows of which he writes: In his northeastern Ohio gardens, he grows some 1,200 varieties of roses.

The dreamy photos will lift you off your seat cushion, and there's so much wisdom packed in these pages you'll be outside, plotting off your new rose beds.

One fine line: "If your grandfather wore a bowler hat and used a walking stick, he may have cut a bloom of 'Mlle. Cecile Brunner' to place in his lapel before walking to the train station each morning. Or, if he was like mine and played hooky from the steel mill to watch the Pirates at Forbes Field, he almost certainly did not."


2010 perennial of the year

Baptisia australis (a.k.a. blue false indigo, wild indigo and baptisia) has been named the 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association (

This stately, stunning plant, native to the eastern United States, is hardy in Zones 3 to 9. In addition to offering beauty to the landscape, it also attracts many butterfly species.

As Tracy DiSabato-Aust writes in her book, "50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants," Baptisia australis "sports outstanding indigo-blue flowers in early spring on spikes that resemble a lupine, but without all the fuss and failure."

Some tips from the association:

- It reaches 3 to 4 feet in both height and width, pretty much the habit of a small shrub. In fall, the flowers dry to become plump seed pods that darken and rattle - an interesting sound effect on a windy day.

- Plant baptisia in full sun; it tolerates partial shade, but it might need staking. It has few insect and disease problems, is drought-resistant and, another plus, deer don't like it. One downside (if you can call it that) is that it likes to stay put, so think twice before moving it. (Lazy gardeners everywhere, rejoice.)

- Baptisia is a slow grower, so the full, breathtaking show takes a few years. We think the payoff is worth it, especially because the plant is long-lived.