Nature's strangest plants. Herb-harvesting trespassers. Rattlesnakes curled in planter beds. Stoners fumbling with hydroponic systems. Semi-tame backyard buzzards. And the fire of the century. This is not a typical garden book. Plantsman: Notes from a California Garden Designer follows avid plant collector and landscaper Steve Harbour through a year of gardening exploits, beginning in early January when he gardens in shorts and a tee-shirt and ending in December as he empties his torched greenhouse after a tragic wildfire. In between, Harbour: Designs entire gardens without a preconceived plan. Discovers metal bands cutting into one of California's rarest plants. Frightens mountain lions. Discovers an endangered plant species sprouting in his garden. Tours a hippie garden. Deliberates the fate of a beautiful garden after its creator dies. Digs moats to drown gophers. Creates an eclectic landscape bordering a wilderness area. Advises a lost family in the mountains. They don't follow his advice. Ruminates on the Secret Life of Plants. Avoids police barricades to learn the fate of his fire-ravaged home. Struggles to outwit homeowners' associations. Watches a hawk swoop out of the sky to devour a favorite blue jay. And basks in the perfect days of each season. Through it all, Harbour discusses Mediterranean gardens, desert landscape design, native plants, garden exhibits, good plants, problem plants, roses, shopping nurseries for bargains, gaining inspiration from nature, gardening in each season, creating wildlife habitats, choosing landscape professionals, and landscaping in fire country. Plantsman reads like a good travel narrative while offering pages of expert gardening advice. The adventure begins just outside the back door.