It's official. We have three winners of Scott Calhoun's book, Designer Plant Combinations! Hearty congratulations–and a copy of Scott's book–go out to Sheryl Yoder (Jeffersonville, IA), Jada Edwards (Grayson, GA) and Dennis Westler (San Francisco Bay area, CA). 

After reading my October 21, 2009 book review, 170 people left comments, from which we pulled three names at random. Each of them have been sent a copy of this fabulous book.

I sent each of them a questionaire to complete and asked them for a photo or two. Here's what I learned.
 
Sheryl Yoder

Pineapple sage.

"I never win anything, so this really is cool!" Sheryl started off. "Since we now live in a patio home…I need to learn new ways to design effective plantings." Sheryl has been reading Fine Gardening's blog for about a year but only recently registered, admitting that, "I was a lurker for a while before I signed on."

No harm done, Sheryl. Sometimes it's best to put your pinkie toe in the water before you jump in.

Sheryl gardens in Zone 6a and hopes that Scott Calhoun's book will encourage her to plant in multiples, rather than succumbing to the condition frequently diagnosed as "one-of-each-itis." She tends to buy just one specimen of an unusual plant, "and then I don't get the effect I hope for."

Be bold, Sheryl! Your garden will thank you.

The standout this year was her pineapple sage that, unfortunately, didn't start blooming until after all the hummingbirds had fled to warmer climates. 

Though only a recent reader of Fine Gardening's blog, Sheryl is no newcomer to horticulture. "I've been hooked since I was a child, spending time with my Grandpa in his vegetable and flower gardens."

Jada Edwards

Jada Edwards.

Jada Edwards' e-mail opened with a bang!

"Hi Billy, I am VERY excited to be a winner! I'm looking forward to reading the book!"

Not one to skimp on exclamation points, Jada shared her enthusiasm and anticipation about how the new book would enhance the look of her Zone 7b, Georgia garden. "Honestly, when I'm shopping for flowers or seeds, I don't really give any thought to how they'll look planted together. I just buy what I like.  Problem is when I get home, I have trouble deciding what to plant where!

This year's show-offs were Jada's zinnias, giving the house "good curb appeal." Her photo (below) says it all.

And I love the relaxed, understated smile on her son, Will! Stay tuned: With that face, Will might soon have his own show on HGTV.

Will with zinnias.
Jada is a relative newbie at the Fine Gardening website. In fact, she's only been gardening for a year. Her main interest is growing (and I guess eating) vegetables, which explains why she has spent more time at FG's sister site, www.vegetablegardener.com. But as passionate as she is about growing edibles, she loves to plant flowers "to attract pollinators and just to enjoy for their own beauty!"

Jada signed off with, "I am totally hooked on gardening as a hobby and a way to reduce my grocery bill! Thanks for letting me share! I sure appreciate this win...can't wait to improve my garden design."

Dennis Westler

Dennis Westler is a professional gardener "hoping to find novel combinations of plants I have not thought of myself."

Fear not, Dennis! This book will knock your socks off. Your head will be spinning with fresh ideas to try out in your clients' gardens. (That's the coolest thing for professional designers—you're imagination doesn't have to stop at your own property lines.)

Rudbeckia trilobata was Dennis' startling star performer this year, appearing from a mysterious volunteer seedling and topping off at a sky-scraping five feet tall. "It was a tower of little brown-centered, intense yellow daisies for ten weeks."

I asked everyone to tell me their favorite plants, but Dennis had a hard time narrowing his choice. The blue-flowering perennial Corydalis flexuosa (Blue Corydalis, a new plant to me) was high on his list, but so were the exotic southeast Asian Pleiones orchids, though they aren't exactly garden plants.

A man after my own heart—and nose—he wishes he could grow herbaceous peonies. I share his frustration, having unsuccessfully tried to integrate them into gardens when I was a designer in the San Francisco area, always frustrated at their lackluster performance.

His parting comment when asked how long he's been gardening? "Thirty years. Yikes!" Yes, Dennis, time marches on.  But at least you've been making the world a more beautiful place, one garden at a time.

Thanks to everyone who entered contest. There's another book up for grabs at my most recent post. Check out Easy Garden Simulations, then try your hand at the project I've described and send me the results. Who knows? You might win your own copy of Planting: The Design Book For The 21st Century.

Later, skaters!

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