If you want a book which will really help you understand gardening in California, with the multiple terrains, ocean currents, winds (Santa Ana for you, offshore for me), etc., the one book which will help you the most is...
Sunset's Western Garden Book
. Either the 7th or 8th edition will be good. The 7th came out in 2001; the 8th in 2008. The Sunset book is good for beginning gardeners, intermediate gardeners, and botanical enthusiasts. There are often copies at the local public library for browsing; some libraries even have circulating copies, so you can leaf through it and decide whether it's for you or not.
of information about how to select gardening tools, how to understand your soil, how to establish plants in containers, how to irrigate/sow/harvest. Many photographs of plants in special situations: near ocean shores, in windy areas, deer-resistant, beautiful foliage, etc. Growing requirements
for virtually every plant one could wish to grow in the western United States & Canada, and recommendations for specific varieties to give the best chance of success in various Sunset climate zones.
The Sunset climate zone system and related maps are, to me, worth the price of the entire book.
It saved my...ah..."bacon"
when I moved to California from Georgia way back when. Sunset explained how and why gardening in California did not follow the Spring-Summer-Fall-Winter cycle familiar to the entire Eastern half of the United States & Canada, to say nothing of most of the world
. After reading Sunset, I was able to make some sense of what was happening around me (remember: no Internet, no cell phones, just books and telephones back in the semi-Dark Ages
So that's my recommendation. If $ is a concern, search for used copies of the 7th edition. I'm still using mine and have no plans to replace it until (maybe) the 9th edition is published in a few years. (No idea when.)
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9