All successful gardening is a local phenomenon, and those who attempt to replicate what they learned "back East" will enrich the local nursery with endless re-plantings. Ms. Phillips guide is a vital one for anyone wanting to enhance their local environment. The book is a detailed and well organized compilation of her long experience. She writes with a certain élan, quoting one time NM resident, D. H. Lawrence on page one, and characterizing the difficulties of growing a "back East" lawn in the desert by saying: "Let Sisyphus continue to push his mower uphill."
In her introduction she discusses the best way of dealing with New Mexico's tough soils. There are also tables on precipitation and temperature statistics, by city, along with a useful graphic on the cold-hardiness zones. The overall book is divided into chapters on the principal plant categories: annuals & biennials; bulbs, corms, rhizomes, & tubers; cacti & succulents; groundcovers; lawns; ornamental grasses; perennials; roses; shrubs; trees; and finally, vines. In general, a page is devoted to a particular plant in which she discusses when, where and how to plant, along with growing tips, on-going care, companion planting and design, and a personal recommendation. There is a section which indicates bloom period and seasonal color, mature height and spread, and the appropriate growth zones. She has devised useful symbols which convey information on water requirements, fragrance, attraction of butterflies, hummingbirds, and other useful information.
The book is attractively organized by a color-code system, and virtually every page has a picture of the plant being described. It also has a glossary, bibliography and index.
Hopefully she will do yet another revised edition which would expand the plants covered, including the Japanese maple I am trying to grow, or perhaps she has already told me the answer on page 190, when she said it is most difficult.
A marvelous guide and an essential companion for those in tune with their natural surroundings.