The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs

The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs

by Tracy DiSabato-Aust, Megan H. King, Megan King
     
 
The Well-Designed Mixed Garden is a design book with a difference. Written for gardeners who are passionate about plants of all kinds (hence the "mixed garden" of the title), it reflects decades of professional experience and artistic innovation. As with her bestselling book The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, master designer and plantswoman Tracy DiSabato-Aust provides

Overview

The Well-Designed Mixed Garden is a design book with a difference. Written for gardeners who are passionate about plants of all kinds (hence the "mixed garden" of the title), it reflects decades of professional experience and artistic innovation. As with her bestselling book The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, master designer and plantswoman Tracy DiSabato-Aust provides not only inspiration but also scrupulously organized information on design and connoisseur plants --- all from original research dating back to her degree work in horticulture.

Her new offering is a master class of design fundamentals, with an emphasis on often-neglected topics, such as site evaluation, color theory, and planning for maintenance. It is also a gallery of detailed design plans that show how ideas are put onto paper and then translated into three dimensions. Lessons learned in its first two parts are strengthened in an "Encyclopedia of Plant Combinations"; each entry notes the design considerations at play and provides tips on how to keep the combination looking its best. And the lifetime care needs and unique design characteristics of featured plants are summarized in the useful charts and lists that conclude the book. The result is a nearly foolproof guide to every aspect of designing superior gardens with superior plants. With more than 250 color photos and illustrations, this book is as much a feast for the eyes as it will be a trusted reference for the library shelf.

Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Daily News
"The book is a master class in plant and color mixing."
Detroit News
"Whether embarking on a DIY project, or enlisting the services of a professional, this book can save time and money … Readers will come away with the 'I get it' feeling."
Hartford Courant
"This new paperback edition puts the emphasis on design and helpfully explains how to put one's own design ideas on paper."

Horticulture
"Tracy DiSabato-Aust does not skip a stone over the pond of an idea; she immerses herself in it and swims deep and wide ... This book, an outstanding work of gardening scholarship, is at the same time down to earth, inspiring, practical, and altogether useful if you want to develop an extraordinary mixed garden."

National Gardener - Joanne S. Carpender
"Tracy makes it possible for the novice gardener to design an artistic mixed garden."

American Gardener - Amy Stewart
"A gorgeous and practical guide to having it all ... The Well-Designed Mixed Garden is one of those enormous and comprehensive works that is equally at home on your coffee table or out in the potting shed."

American Gardener
"A gorgeous and practical guide to having it all ... The Well-Designed Mixed Garden is one of those enormous and comprehensive works that is equally at home on your coffee table or out in the potting shed."

— Amy Stewart

National Gardener
"Tracy makes it possible for the novice gardener to design an artistic mixed garden."

— Joanne S. Carpender

Utah Style and Design
"With an encyclopedia of connoisseur plants, suggested plant combinations,and garden composition ideas, this book is sure to be a trusted and treasured reference for your personal garden library."
Utah Style and Design, Summer2004
Haggas, Carol
In this eagerly awaited sequel to her best-seller, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden (1998), DiSabato-Aust brings her trademark exuberance, expertise, and efficiency to bear on frequently daunting elements of garden design, demystifying them with her direct approach and encouraging gardeners with her infectious enthusiasm. A patient instructor with a keen sense of the essential, DiSabato-Aust explores areas other authors often ignore, going in-depth on topics such as color, for example, to clarify the differences between “hue” and “value” and demonstrate how intensity of light can affect the way in which flowers are perceived. Examples abound: winning plant combinations are photographed, illustrated, and then deconstructed in an encyclopedic compilation of 27 sample designs that explains why the groupings work and how they can be achieved. DiSabato-Aust conscientiously provides the tools required to transform theory into reality as she walks readers through the actual process of putting plans on paper, spacing plants, and estimating supplies. Painstakingly researched and precisely organized comprehensive appendixes concisely chart cultural characteristics and design attributes in this admirably inspirational, abundantly informative, and absolutely indispensable guide to great garden design.
Booklist
Library Journal
DiSabato-Aust is a professional landscape designer and author of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, the first gardening book to offer thorough advice on pruning and maintaining perennial gardens. She expands her focus here to the mixed border, which incorporates permanent woody plants as well as perennials, annuals, and other plants that die back to the ground every year. Other garden writers, in particular Ann Lovejoy, have written about the mixed border, but this new book stands out for its comprehensive approach to designing the border; examples of designs for both small and large gardens; an "Encyclopedia of Plant Combinations," consisting of 27 vignettes of compatible plants; and appendixes for quick reference to hundreds of varieties by their characteristics in the garden (flower and foliage color, hardiness zone, etc.). Particularly impressive are the author's designs for using the mixed-garden approach in small properties, such as townhouse gardens and around foundations. Designing an effective mixed garden is more challenging than simply lining up a row of marigolds, but the motivated gardener will find a wealth of information and ideas in this book. Recommended for most gardening collections.-Beth Clewis Crim, Prince William P.L., VA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

"Tracy makes it possible for the novice gardener to design an artistic mixed garden."

"A gorgeous and practical guide to having it all ... The Well-Designed Mixed Garden is one of those enormous and comprehensive works that is equally at home on your coffee table or out in the potting shed."

"Tracy DiSabato-Aust does not skip a stone over the pond of an idea; she immerses herself in it and swims deep and wide ... This book, an outstanding work of gardening scholarship, is at the same time down to earth, inspiring, practical, and altogether useful if you want to develop an extraordinary mixed garden."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780881925593
Publisher:
Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
01/02/2003
Pages:
460
Product dimensions:
10.38(w) x 11.31(h) x 1.35(d)

Read an Excerpt


When gardens that you've visited linger pleasantly in your memory, what do they look like? Do they have trees above to protect you? Are the trees underplanted with rhododendrons, hellebores, and daffodils? Perhaps there are old-fashioned roses, whose fragrance you can almost still smell. Around the roses are alliums, foxgloves, and dianthus, the wall behind may be covered with honeysuckle and clematis. A group of nigella in soft blue, seeded from the previous season, adds a soft grace to the romantic scene. Maybe you remember a garden with the bold tropical foliage of cannas, the bright yellow flowers of heliopsis, the swaying panicles of miscanthus. The enlivening scene was grounded by the solidarity of a boxwood hedge. These picturesque images are of mixed gardens, the gardens I find to be the most spectacular and emotionally rewarding.

A mixed garden is one that is planted with a combination of herbaceous (soft-stemmed) and woody plant material. Trees and shrubs, roses, and perhaps large-growing ornamental grasses may give the garden its outlining structure. Herbaceous perennials and annuals, along with spring- and summer-flowering bulbs, vines, and sometimes vegetables, fill the remaining space. The planting is diverse, derived from a wide palette of plant material, making for a garden that has interest and function year-round. Varied textures, forms, and colors abound in a mixed garden. The rhythm of undulating plant heights and habits makes for a dynamic scene. Planting in layers, utilizing all available space, frees the designer and gardener to choose from the wider variety of plant material; space is used more creatively and efficiently. Sections of light and shadow provide the ability to grow sun- and shade-loving plants in close proximity. Mixed gardens are particularly important for small spaces, where the luxury of separate spaces for a shrubbery (shrub border), an annual bed, and a perennial garden are not possible.

What I call mixed gardens or borders are often an extension of the traditional perennial border, yet they offer several advantages over a strictly herbaceous garden. The framework of deciduous and evergreen shrubs or trees can add tremendously to the winter garden. Annuals, tropicals, and early spring, summer, and autumn bulbs further extend the season of interest in a mixed garden. We need not rely on flowers for the predominant interest but can look to fruit, bark, and autumn color from the woodies to provide further drama. Vines incorporated to utilize the vertical space in the garden can add scale if used on a freestanding structure such as an obelisk, or they might soften a wall or hide a fence. Aligned as it is with planting in nature, a mixed garden often has a more natural feel to it than a purely perennial or annual planting. Hearken back to fourth-grade science (yikes!) and its lessons about the layers of the forest: canopy, understory, shrubs, and herbaceous groundcovers. For plantaholics — those of us who love all kinds of plants, no matter if they are herbaceous or woody — planting a mixed border better satisfies our fanatical plant-lust. It turns a collection of plants into an artistic garden.

Meet the Author


Tracy DiSabato-Aust, an award-winning designer and a nationally recognized horticultural author, professional speaker, and consultant, has been in the landscape industry since 1978, working, studying, and teaching at gardens in Belgium, England, Canada, and the U.S. She is the owner of Horticultural Classics and Consultations—a garden design company. DiSabato-Aust has contributed articles and photographs to many national magazines, including Fine Gardening, Country Gardens, Garden Gate, Midwest Living, American Nurseryman, Real Simple, and Garden Design. She resides near Columbus, Ohio.

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