The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbsby 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 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.
Joanne S. Carpender
—Utah Style and Design, Summer2004
"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."
- Timber Press, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- 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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