"Roses, How to Select, Grow and Enjoy," by Richard Ray and Michael MacCaskey (HP Books, P.O. Box 5367, Tucson, Ariz. 85703, 160 pages, more than 500 full-color photos, $7.95 paperbound).
This beautiful book provides up-to-date information on hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, climbers and minatures, gives step-by-step instructions for planting, watering and fertilizing, and basic principles of pruning and pest control. It describes over 220 varieties according to fragrance, form, foliage and American Rose Society ratings.
"Growing beautiful roses depends on growing good roots," the authors write. "A healthy well-prepared planting hole is perhaps the single most important step toward ensuring a healthy rose.
"The best time to plant will vary somewhat by region. In the warm Southwest, roses will be available in the nurseries from December to February. Where soil freezes, roses should be available at the earliest spring planting time.
"The ideal location for a rose garden is a spot with an eastern exposure that provides at least 6 hours of sun a day. The land should be sloped so that air and water drainage are excellent. Trees and shrubs that might compete for water and nutrients should be several feet away. Morning sun is preferred so that the rose leaves will be dried of dew as sson as possible. This provides an extra margin of protection from blackspot and mildew.
"But even if the only place you have doesn't seem very promising, try anyway. Roses are much hardier than you might think. Any loss would be small compared to potential gain.
"If you are going to plant many roses, a soil test can provide insurance against failures caused by poor soil. Most importantly, it will show the pH (acid-alkaline balance) of the soil. Roses do best with a pH of 6.0 (slightly acid) to 7.0 (neutral).
"Roses in containers become available later in the spring and usually are in stock at nurseries through summer. They can be planted any time and do not need soaking before planting.
"Roses that have been long established can be transplanted without too much difficulty. The time to transplant is when the plant is dormant or nearly so, in late winter or early spring.
"Prune the bush hard, leaving 3 to 6 canes of 3 to 4 buds each. Push your shovel into the soil at about 12 inches from the crown all around the bush. Periodically push down on the shovel handle to lift the bush from the ground.After some working in this manner, the plant will come free. Carefully lift the plant from the base so the roots are not damaged unnecessarily. Replant as you would a new bush."
"Garden Color -- Annuals & Perennials," by the Editors of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine (Lane Publishing Co., Menlo Park, Calif. 94025, 96 pages; well-illustrated, $3.95 paperbound, can be ordered direct).
This is a particularly good book for those who have not had much experience with growing flowers.
Most of the popular annuals and perennials need sunshine and good soil, the authors write.
"For shaded locations or for soils that are dry, extra moist, or nutrient poor, the range of plant choices is somewhat limited. Where soil is poor or full of roots but other conditions are favorable, consider growing plants in containers, planters, or raised beds. Remember, too, that the more you can enjoy the success of your garden the sweeter it will be; so plant your annuals and perennials where you can see them most often.
"Annuals have only a short lifetime in which to become established and to grow and bloom. A well prepared soil will enhance the productiveness of that lifetime. And perennials, because they remain in the same place for a period of years, benefit from thorough preparation of the soil that must sustain them.
"A good garden soil is porous and drains well, yet retains sufficient moisture for roots. Also, it provides ample nutrients to meet the needs of plants. Preparing such a soil is one of the main tasks of a gardener.
"It's important to set a plant at its proper depth to ensure that its roots can spread into the soil. You also want to be sure the soil is settled and firm around the roots, leaving no air pockets.
"The oft repeated advice is to water thoroughly and infrequently. Thoroughly means watering deeply enough to moisten all of the roots. Deep watering promotes deep-growing roots because roots seek moisture. If the water goes deep, so will the roots.
"And the deeper the roots go, the less vulnerable they are to moisture fluctuations at the soil lsurface. If you water plants lightly, and daily, they'll establish shallow root systems and be vulnerable to sudden drying out, which can happen even in the most carefully tended gardens."