Palm Springs Style Gardening by Maureen Gilmer and liked it just as much as when I got it out of the library. It is wonderfully arranged, starting with an introduction to desert/southwestern gardening and how it differs from other climate zones. Particularly, it addresses choosing plants that will survive the heat and how to help them do it. Although San Diego is quite a bit more temperate than the high-desert, I do like that she focuses on drainage and soil conditions. Putting a cactus or succulent into poorly draining potting soil is just asking for trouble.
She then moves on into the various classes of plants in each chapter, with one on Palm Trees, Succulents, the Cacti, Euphorbia, Grasses, etc. Enough to get a good idea of what direction to go, but not overwhelming. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Palms and the distinctions between the Mexican and Californian Fan Palms and the pinnate leafed varieties. I think we really lucked out in that the two specimens in our front yard are California Palms (although that does mean they may grow up to 60 feet tall!!)
However, reading the book also made me realize that I really did need to do some trimming of our trees, as they have several quite heavy looking fruit-bearing branches and according to some, pruning of these branches will help devote more resources towards nice healthy fronds and deep root growth. So I got our recently purchased bypass loppers and the ladder and went up. The one towards the front wasn't too bad, it's only 15 feet or so up, but the larger one, wow, I had the ladder nearly the whole way extended.
Of course, I forgot to take before pictures, but here's what the two palms looked like after. And the yard waste that I now need to go get a new garbage can for! (for yard waste recycling they don't provide the containers and up till now we had been throwing the small amount of weeds we picked into the trash...*cringe*)