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

By Tracy DiSabato-Aust

Illustrations by Megan H. King, Martin Knapp, and Stacey Renee Peters

Foreword by Colston Burrell

Written by an expert for those who aspire to become experts in design fundamentals.

Real Simple

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.

This paperback reprint 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.

Media reviews

"This new paperback edition puts the emphasis on design and helpfully explains how to put one's own design ideas on paper."

—Nancy Szerlag, Hartford Courant

"A master class in plant and color mixing."

—Sandra Barrera and Sharon Betz, Los Angeles Daily News

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

—Joanne S. Carpender, National 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, American Gardener

"A master design manual for the entire garden and the one book you must have for growing anything."

—John Van de Water, Newark Star-Ledger

"I appreciate the personal tone and examples from her own garden, as well as the fine plant combinations she suggests."

—Valerie Easton, Seattle Times

"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. ... [An] admirably inspirational, abundantly informative, and absolutely indispensable guide to great garden design."

—Carol Haggas, Booklist

"An inspiring, satisfying sensory over-load."

—Leah Berg, Kansas City Gardener

"Equally as thorough as her first book, this is certainly a must-have design reference for the serious and dedicated perennial, particularly for those that design gardens for other people."

New Perennial Club Newsletter

"This book is written by an expert for those who aspire to become experts in design fundamentals."

Real Simple

"The Well-Designed Mixed Garden teaches the basics of things like coordinating flower and leaf colors, paying attention to plant textures, and giving unity to the whole shebang with little tricks like repeating plant groupings and getting dominant specimens in just the right spot."

—George Weigel, Harrisburg Patriot-News

"An over-sized, elegantly produced book of beautiful photos of beautiful combinations. Look forward to well-crafted design basics and hefty appendices. Consider this a great second act for Tracy and a real gift for fledging or experienced designer."

—Donna Williamson, HortResources Newsletter

"A solid, informative read."

—Mary Davies, Irish Garden

"The book is the equivalent of a semester's worth of design lectures."

Perennial Notes

"Written in three parts, it is very well organized, taking each step, one at a time, to create a mixed garden."

—Marty Figley, Michigan Observer and Eccentric

"The newest book by this author who does a fine job in presenting ideas on how to combine plant elements to yield a unified whole. Her ideas are basically down-to-earth and ones which most home gardeners can relate to with ease."

—Georgene Bramlage, Suite101.com

"What we gardeners relish most is practical information, and the book contains plenty of that."

—Judith Adams, Canadian Gardening

"Book of the Month ... A joy to read ... Expert advice and superb photography."

Gardens Monthly

"Exciting gardening"

—Tom Stuart-Smith, Garden (Peterborough)

"Eagerly anticipated."

—Anne Marie Van Nest, St. Catherines Standard

"The photography and art work are excellent and add greatly to understanding the design principles presented in the text."

—Winston Dunwell, Nursery Views

"This book is as much a feast for the eyes as it will be a trusted reference for the library shelf."

Michigan Gardener

"I urge you, whatever your status as a gardener, to consider putting this new book on your gardening list this spring ... I predict it will prove its worth many times over."

—Jean S. Wexler, Vineyard Gazette

"The Well-Designed Mixed Garden is that rarest of books: One that combines inspirational material, hundreds of full-color photos, and meticulously organized information in an easy-to-read format."

Northern Gardener

"A beautiful, oversized book, packed with information, charts, lists, photos and watercolor ilustrations."

—Barbara Lloyd McMichael, Olympia Olympian

"Provides sound direction for plant lovers looking to free their garden from the doldrums and fashion a rich tapestry of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vines, grasses, and bulbs ... Beginners may be overwhelmed by this book's wealth of information, but its comprehensiveness renders it all the more valuable for seasoned gardeners seeking greater practical know-how and a surer grasp of the art of gardening."

—Jennifer Wyatt, Amazon.com

"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."

—Nancy Szerlag, Detroit News

"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."

—Gordon Hayward, Horticulture

"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, where you can page through it as you plant."

—Amy Stewart, American Gardener

"Provides not only inspiration but scrupulously organized information on design and connoisseur plants."

Publishers Weekly

"This new book stands out for its comprehensive approach to designing the border ... The motivated gardener will find a wealth of information and ideas in this book."

—Beth Clewis Crim, Library Journal

"Innovative ideas for designing with annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees."

—Lorraine Flanigan, Canadian Gardening

"Makes a good case for the "mixed garden": year-round interest with a beguiling variety of plants."

—Joe Harvey, American Rhododendron Society Journal

"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."

—Kelsey Blackwell, Utah Style and Design

"This big volume organizes the author's decades of professional experience into a foolproof guide that will serve gardeners well. It's an education in design fundamentals, site evaluation, color theory, planting and maintenance."

—Jim Carlson, Backyard Solutions

"DiSabato-Aust focuses on design and combining shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials and other plants into a garden. She uses a step-by-step approach to instruct beginning gardeners, and covers topics often overlooked such as site evaluation, color theory and planning for maintenance."

—Andrea Bogos, Grand Rapids Press

"Written for gardeners who are ... hooked on plants of all kinds."

—Dorothea Smith, Westchester Journal News

"Superb and inspiring photographs."

—Leonard Perry, Perry's Perennial Pages

"The text is rich with information and the author's insights."

—Linda Coyner, Senior Women Web

"Unlike so many books on garden design that tempt readers with pretty pictures and give little or no instruction as to how to accomplish such delights, this work begins with site evaluation and takes readers through the complete design process."

—John R. Beaudry, Chicago Botanic Garden

"A 'must-have' for designing a garden."

Floral and Nursery Times

"Packed with solid information and hundreds of inspiring ideas, beautifully illustrated ... A must-have reference in the home gardener's library."

—Ethel Fried, Manchester (CT) Journal Inquirer

"Has a little for everyone."

Florida International Magazine

"This is the book for blending and combining all of the things you love into one landscape."

—Pam Beck, Raleigh News and Observer

"A well-planned reference source ... the writing is friendly, with botanical jargon kept to a minimum."

—Rosemarie Papayanopulos, Pullman Daily Evergreen

"An excellent source for the weekend gardener, a sophisticated master gardener, and even a professional landscape designer. Chances are that you will continuously return to this book and make notes in the margin."

—George Graine, Virginia Master Gardeners Association Report

"This much-anticipated book is a nearly foolproof guide to every aspect of designing superior gardens with superior plants."

Northwest Horticultural Society

"This was worth waiting for."

—Nancy Brachey, Charlotte Observer

"'The Well-Designed Mixed Garden' will make many trips to my coffee table. And my kitchen table and bedside, and maybe even out to the garden. The author speaks to every level of gardener on every consideration leading to the design of a beautiful garden ... It is truly amazing what DiSabato-Aust has managed to pack into just 460 pages ... This book is one of the best investments you can make this year and for years to come."

—Jean Starr, Northwest Indiana Times

"Owning a copy of this book is like having a 24-hour daily access to a talented landscape designer."

—Judy Lowe, Christian Science Monitor

"Destined to become a well-thumbed resource for many gardeners."

—Kathleen Freimond, GardenWise

About the author

Tracy DiSabato-Aust

Tracy DiSabato-Aust has earned international acclaim as one of America's most entertaining and knowledgeable garden writers and professional speakers. She has extensive experience in the United States and abroad with more than 35 years in the industry and is a gifted and award-winning designer who combines artistic vision with practical horticultural strategies.

Read more about Tracy DiSabato-Aust

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