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Perennial Publications--Design

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Designer Plant Combinations --(more in-depth review)
Scott Calhoun.  2008.  Storey Publ.  softcover, 240pp.
Subtitled "Perfect Combinations from America's Top Garden Designers", this lavishly illustrated book provides design ideas for most any garden in any region.  This is done through examples of plant combinations, using six plants or fewer, from 105 gardens of some of the top garden designers across the country.  Accompanying the close-up photo of the plant combination is a brief description of the design, the plants, and a very useful designer tip.

Graham Stuart Thomas' Three Gardens --(more in-depth review)
Graham Stuart Thomas.  2001 (1983).  Sagapress.  221pp, hardcover.
This reissue of the original book of 1983, first U.S. edition in 1986, gives an insight into this well known horticulturist of our time, through descriptions of the three gardens he has personally owned and developed.  Reading this, and it is quite readable in a narrative style, you will gain an appreciation of many new and worthy garden plants, the history of gardening especially in Britain of the last half century, and the inspiration behind this master plantsman and practitioner of the art and craft of horticulture.

The Well-Designed Mixed Garden  (more in-depth review)
Tracy DiSabato-Aust.  2003.  Timber Press, hardcover, 460pp.
You may know the author from her previous best-selling book on perennial maintenance, The Well-tended Perennial Garden.  She now combines her years of experience not only maintaining gardens for clients, but designing them as well, in this extensive reference on all aspects of mixed gardens-- those containing a mixture of trees, shrubs and flowers.  The first half of the book has three chapters on design-- basics, several design examples, and 27 combinations of 2 or 3 plants that work well together.  The design examples are of her own designs, illustrated with watercolors of the plan and photos of the actual result.  The book throughout is illustrated with her own superb and inspiring photographs. The second half of the book consists of useful appendices listing plants by design characteristics and by maintenance characteristics.

Best Borders
Tony Lord.  1996.  Penguin Publ.  144pp.  (out of print but still available)
This is a design book showing twelve very different designs, each with it’s own unique character. The plantings shown are in
Great Britain and reflect some spectacular garden designs, and why they work (Marilyn W.)

World Gardens

Monet's Water Lilies
Russell, Vivian.  1998.  Bulfinch Press.  hard cover, 89 pp.  This award-winning writer and photographer, shows in this small book the making of this famous painter's water garden at Giverny, France.  She describes how he chose the subjects for his most famous paintings, the waterlilies, from a nursery near Bordeaux.  Her current photographs, alongside the archival ones of the painter and his garden, and the paintings themselves, portrays the mood of the garden captured by Monet and that one can still experience there now with the lilies appearing to float in the water on the reflections of the clouds.

Chelsea Gold
Moreland, John.  2000.  Cassell and Co. hard cover, 160pp.  Each May the best designers and firms in the UK compete for the gold medal at the world famous Chelsea Flower Show.  In this book, one of these designers interviews winners of the last decade of the last century, their ideas, inspirations, and amusing stories.  Their winning gardens are illustrated by Britain's leading garden photographers.  Many of the gardens are small, and many of the photos close-up, showing many "do able" ideas for the average home gardener.

The World of Garden Design
Susan Dooley.  2000.  Chronicle. hardcover, 320pp.
In this beautiful book of color photos, the editor of Garden Design magazine takes you on a tour to five major regions-- Italy, Britain, France, The Tropics, and Japan and China.  In each she depicts characteristics of their gardens, and then examples of these in this country.  The first chapter gives a timeline of when America borrowed what.  The author suggests our national mantra might be "search globally, garden locally."

Icons of Garden Design
Caroline Holmes.  2001.  Prestel. hardcover, 176pp.
Part of this publishers Icon series, this book illustrates garden history through 300 color photo of 77 gardens worldwide.  Arranged chronologically in order of founding of each garden, it begins with the ruins of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka, dating to 300BC.  The last garden is the modern Park Andre Citroen in Paris, founded in 1992.  The brief text on each, written by a team of garden historians, tells something not only of the particular gardens but of gardens of their period and type.  Each garden also has a brief timeline of its history and development.

Gardens in China  (more in-depth review)
Peter Valder.  2002.  Timber Press, hardcover, 400pp.
Unlike most other books on Chinese gardens that deal mainly with the well-known gardens, and characteristic Chinese garden elements, this book puts more emphasis on lesser known gardens and parks and the plants.  The book begins with another unique chapter to such books-- a discussion of Chinese gardens as seen through other writers and visitors over the last century and a half.  The majority of the book has five chapters, suggested by the five elements as the foundation of Chinese cosmology.  These chapters each cover gardens in five regions-- the north, south, east, west, and center.  Most of the 200 horticultural sites described, along with some facts about their regions and locales, are illustrated with the author's photos and even some older photos and illustrations.  The author is a retired botanist from New South Wales, who has written and spoken widely in his country on plants, and traveled ten times to China to study its plants and gardens.

The Scandinavian Garden
Buhler, Karl-Dietrich.  2000.  Francis Lincoln Ltd.  hard cover, 192pp.  Another recent trend in 2000 is the use of sculpture in the garden, and this is no better typified than in the Scandinavian garden and illustrated in the photographs of famous European photographer Karl-Deitrich Buhler.  Although mainly known for his photographs, in this book he adds excellent accompanying descriptions to the many photographs of private gardens and influental public gardens of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.  Scuptures, bold geometric forms--either flowing or angular--decorative details, and attention to foliage groupings and textures are the trademarks of these gardens.  A great book for inspiration, the coffee table, or design ideas.

Create a Mediterranean Garden
Barron, Pattie (photos by Simon McBride).  1999.  Lorenz.  hard cover, 160pp.  This lavishly illustrated book is of interest to any gardeners, with tips and ideas for even those in a cold zone 4 in Vermont!  Although Mediterranean climates are by nature hot and dry, cold climates can have such gardens by using tough plants such as creeping thymes, and many more tender plants in clay pots (that can be overwintered indoors) and stone troughs in a protected location such as brick patio.  The book jacket states"The Mediterranean courtyard offer s different kind of excitement, of terracotta pots with pink and scarlet geraniums, tangerine and fuchsia bougainvillea, lemon tree and fig."  For those that are not as concerned with limitations of cold, "The native Mediterranean garden is not for the faint-hearted, but for those who like their plants spirited and their flower beds exuberant."
    The premise of design suggested is to not worry about principles of design--putting Mediterranean plants together they by nature grow together and look proper.  Examples of plants of various sorts are mentioned, listed and illustrated be they edibles, climbers, bulbs, succulents or other. The most useful parts of this book to me are the many illustrated tips such as using textures and water features; and design tips in various stages such as making island beds, controlling weeds, painting pots, using mosaic tiles, and making stone troughs.

Themes (see also world gardens above)

The Baroque Landscape
Michael Brix.  2004.  Rizzoli.  hardcover, 191pp.
Subtitled “Andre LeNotre and Vaux le Vicomte,” this is a reference for any interested in famous gardens, garden design, or garden history.  LeNotre was the foremost landscape designer of the 17th century in France, basically responsible for the formal Baroque style of landscape design.  Vaux le Vicomte, the famous garden south of Paris, was his earliest famous work, established this style of design, and set the stage for his penultimate design of the Versailles grounds for Louis XIV.  This book has many color photos of the current gardens and details such as statuary and fountains.  Engravings depict the garden’s past history.

In Harmony with Nature, Lessons from the Arts and Crafts Garden.
Rick Darke.  2000.  Michael Friedman, 160pp, hardcover.
Horticulturist, author and photographer Rick Darke is internationally recognized for his several books and many articles, especially on ornamental grasses.  In this book he treats a period of design, and its gardens, not covered many other places.  After an overview of the Arts and Crafts movement and garden characters, he covers the details by visits and superb photographs of 6 gardens in England and many more in all regions across America.  Much emphasis is placed on elements besides the plants-- the structures, the surrounding landscape.  For as the author explains, "A sense of connectedness is at the heart of Arts and Crafts ideals.  The garden is a unique conjunction of art, living elements, and human events that take place in its embrace, and it has a unique ability to heal, enlighten, and inspire.

Theme Gardens
Barbara Damrosch.  2001 (revised).  Workman. paperback, 250pp.
First written in 1982 by this market gardener and popular author and lecturer, this revised edition covers descriptions, a suggested plan and plants for each of 16 different theme gardens.  These vary from fragrance, shakespeare garden, gray garden, to a winter garden.  Along with color photos are a frontal color drawing of each suggested plan, then a top view of the plan listing suggested plants.  The plants also have color drawings,and brief descriptions. Other how-to topics are interspersed such as on edging, fencing, pruning, staking and similar.

The Collector's Garden
Ken Druse. 1996. Clarkson Potter Publ, 248 pages, hardcover.
Growing out of the author's previous book, The Natural Habitat Garden, this one is a bit opposite, dealing with introduced or
collected plants, and their use in contained spaces. There are many "plant nuts" out there (like myself) where the plants come first.  In this book the author divides these into four groups: the hunters, who seek out the new and different; the missionaries, who seek to save threatened plants by growing them in collections; the specialists, who focus on one group such as daylilies or one habitat such as woodland plants; and the aesthetes, who seek plants for their use in design, such as color theme gardens. The author illustrates these groups by showcasing 28 gardeners and their gardens from around the country. Some guides for collecting, such as propagation, sources and societies, are also given. The over 400 beautiful photos by this award-winning author and photographer are worth the book alone!

Herb Garden Designs
Faith Swanson and Virginia Rady.  1984, University Press of New England, first edition, soft cover 133 pages.
This book seems like it would be very useful if you were looking to plant a garden based on someone else’s strict plans. More often than not, however, gardens turn out to be the ever-changing product of an ongoing work. One thing that is not helpful either is that nowhere in the book do they talk about the herbs at all-- no mention of growing habit, size or color, just the layouts. As a reader, if you are knowledgeable about each plant's specifics it would be a very helpful book for planning a meticulous garden.  If plant details aren’t as familiar then this book isn’t nearly as helpful.  (Dana O.)


The Perennial Gardener's Design Primer   (more in-depth review)
Stephanie Cohen and Nancy Ondra.  2005.  Storey Publishing, softcover, 310pp.
If you're new to perennial gardening you definitely should have this book.  Even if you're experienced with perennials, you should enjoy the humorous and very engaging writing style, and get ideas from the artistic photos of Rob Cardillo.  There are three main sections on design, perennial gardens for 20 different sites or uses, and how to deal with the three situations you may have-- a bare site, expanding an existing garden, or renovating a garden. Being so affordable, and covering both design and plants, it should make a useful reference for gardeners and text for students.

John Brookes Garden Masterclass (more in-depth review)
John Brookes.  2002. DK Publishing.  hardcover, 352pp.One of the top garden designers in the world today, this well-known British author summarizes in words, sketches, and photos over 40 years of landscape experiences.  This book undoubtedly covers the material from his courses in England, the Americas, and Japan with his designs, and those of contemporaries, as examples.  The eleven chapters each cover a design element, such as setting--harmonizing the garden with its environment, or direction--adding movement to the design.  The extensive photos are worthy of the finest coffee tables just for browsing and inspiration, yet when studied can provide details even the smallest gardener could implement simply and affordably.

The Gardener's Book of Color
Andrew Lawson.  1996.  Reader's Digest. hardcover 191pp.
If you learn as I do, and get ideas on plant combinations, from seeing others, this book will be a wealth of ideas from the beautiful photos.  The author is an avid gardener in the UK, writer and award winning photographer.  He begins with single colors, describing and illustrating their use, and listing appropriate plants by season, with brief descriptions.  Then examples of various harmonies, or combinations of similar colors are shown.  Then there are chapters on various plant combinations of contrasting colors.  Even though many of the cultivars described and listed are not available, or have better selections, in the U.S., just looking at the genera and species is inspirational and provides many ideas.

Gardening with Light and Color
Marylyn Abbott.  1999.  Kyle Cathie Ltd.  160pp, hardcover.  The author has gardened in various climates, and has one of the most visited gardens in Australia, photographed by one of Britain's top photographers.  The main premise of this book of lavish photographs, is that light affects color in the garden, and so color will vary with climate and surroundings.  The book text discusses combinations of plants from this perspective, such as combinations that work best in sunny climes, those that work best in cloudy, or under shade for instance.  Chapters include such as Shining Jewels (bright colors), a Rainbow Garden, and specific colors such as Blues and Mauves.  A beautiful book, one with ideas for many climates and regions.

Color in Garden Design-- more in-depth review
Sandra Austin, Taunton, 1998. A beautiful book , lots of color photos dealing not so much with lists of plants but rather all about color-- basics, attributions, combinations, perception, and its use in various contexts (such as light, texture, time).

Color by Design-- more in-depth review
Nori and Sandra Pope, 1998, SOMA Books in No. America. Another beautiful book, lots of color photos by famous photographer Clive Nichols. After basics of color in the beginning, color by color is treated with some exquisite plant photos both individual and in groupings, how that particular color is seen and used. Many photos are from the authors' gardens at Hadspen House in England, and include many of their newly bred perennials.

General landscaping

Home Landscaping – Northeast Region Including Southeast Canada
Holmes, Roger and Rita Buchanan.  1998. Creative Homeowner Press, 207 pp., softcover
This book, targeted for gardens in Zones 4-6, is divided into three sections: Portfolio of Designs, providing examples of 23 landscaping situations; Guide to Installation with detailed instructions covering the techniques to install the designs covered in the first section; and Plant Profiles describing each plant featured in the Portfolio.  Generally there are two designs for each type of landscaping situation with site plans on a scaled grid and illustrations showing the plantings at particular times of the year.  (Janet S.)

Other, trends, lifestyle (see also Other gardening books)

Decorating Your Garden-- more in-depth review
Evelegh, Tessa.  2000.  Lorenz.  hard cover, 256pp.  One of the better outdoor decorating books I've seen, this lavishly illustrated book is full of practical and inexpensive ideas to decorate your outdoor living spaces just as you might indoor rooms.  Innovative ideas for outdoor "floors" include using shells, pebbles or mosaics (this is quite trendy as seen in magazines and flower shows in the UK in 2000); for outdoor "walls" use paint effects and creative plasterwork; for fixtures outdoors consider trellises, archways and pergolas; and for accesssories consider various types of outdoor furniture, boxes, baskets, pots, planters and whimsical items.  Many of the latter accessories are inexpensive, easy to make, and how to make them is well illustrated-- perhaps the most fun and useful part of the book for me-- I can't wait for some rainy days to make them, or projects for the long Vermont winter months!

Feng Shui for Gardens (more in-depth review)
Too, Lillian.  1998.  Element Books Ltd.  hard cover, 224 pp.  Feng Shui is the "art of living in such perfect balance with your environment that every aspect of your life benefits." Feng Shui stresses that we must live in tune with the world's landscape. Currently quite a popular and trendy subject in 1999-2001, there are several books now on it. This one seems a fairly in-depth and accurate look at garden Feng Shui, and with practical tips for home gardens and gardeners, written by one of the world's experts on the subject.

Shocking Beauty-- more in-depth review
Thomas Hobbs. Periplus, 1999. 152pp, hardcover. Definately a book for creative garden inspiration, staying on top of the latest plants, and cutting edge garden design. This includes ideas "thinking out of the box" for garden whimsy, container gardens, bold and often shocking color combinations among plants or with other painted objects, and more. Written by a nurseryman and designer from Vancouver, and lavishly illustrated.

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