This book is indispensable for the Texas DFW area. Since I first found this book last year, I have read it front to back nearly every other month. More helpful to the beginner with a brand new landscape than anything Neil Sperry has written. (Although, he is the next author you should buy from :P)
Let me tell you why I'm so passionate about this book. First, it's divided in four simple sections. Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs and Vines, and Trees. (It also has some helpful info up front like all these books do.) For each section it lists about 30 excellent plants.
Each of these plants have their own two page spread chock full of information. They are rated blue ribbon, red ribbon or no ribbon based on how many times you've got to mess with them during the year, their performance, and bug/disease resistance. The blue ribbons are no fail. These pages tell you everything you could possibly want to know about these plants. The characteristics, the growing conditions, the maintenance requirements, the reasons why they are so loved, informative blurbs, color period, buying tips, and the most helpful thing of all: Companion Plants. These are based on color period, color, water requirements. texture of the leaves, height, etc. These are the best looking plants that contrast with the star. This is no fail. It also has some identifiers at the top of the page that inform you in a glance if it's a texas native, if it attracts birds/butterflies/hummingbirds, if it resists deer, etc.
For instance. One of the many companion plants listed for red yucca (blue ribbon) is lantana. It softens the whole appearance of the Red yucca. If you pick purple, it will enhance the purple tone of the leaves that I never realized were there. I actually chose yellow because my garden is all red and yellow, but it worked. They look great together.
When it talks about cannas, it talks about why that plant is so excellent, but they didn't win a ribbon because they attract too many bugs. A great plant but you'll have to either treat it or cut off the damages leaves once a month. So you can see, this book is very selective on showing us the EASIEST no maintenance plants we should get.
Anywho, after all those great plants are listed, at the end of the sections is a longer list of other great plants for that section and a short informative blurb about them.
I filled my gardens in my new house with plants from this book. As I grow more confident in my abilities, I've started to branch out. If you or someone you know is a new gardener or just bought a new house, get this book. It is awesome. :)