Cool Green Gardens

Win a copy of Designer Plant Combinations!

From page 94.
From page 66.
From page 94.
From page 66.

Whether you are new to gardening or a seasoned professional, Scott Calhoun’s Designer Plant Combinations will provide the inspiration to start your creative juices flowing.

This idea-packed book is based on the idea that when it comes to plants, less is more. As the cover states, “105 Stunning Gardens using Six Plants or Fewer.” Six or fewer is the key. If you tend to get carried away with your plant selections, this book offers the antidote to the dreaded malady, “one-of-each-itis.”

From page 138.

Scott’s inspiration for this book was triggered by an “adverse reaction” to home make-over television shows. Though he doesn’t subscribe to cable TV at home, Scott would occasionally catch an episode in his hotel room while traveling to a speaking engagements.

“It disturbed me that plants were thrown in as an afterthought, just something to walk past on the way to the front door,” Scott explained. “This book raises the bar. I felt it was my job to show that well-conceived plant combinations can bring natural beauty to the garden. The plants don’t have to be rare or unusual—what is important is that they are combined artistically, to add a designer’s touch.”

Love At First Sight

This book resonates with me on many levels—visually elegant, clearly and buoyantly written, and chock full of down-to-earth plant information. We’ll start with the eye candy.

Let the book fall open to any page and savor the title of each mini-treatise. The example titled Grinding Out a Coffee-Colored Combo hit my frontal lobe like a triple espresso. It features an adventurous monochromatic mash-up of designer Inta Krombolz’s copper, wine and brown foliage plants splashed with a burst of bright chartreuse (pg 94).

From page 206.

There’s something here for all tastes—soft, elegant studies in gray, white and blue (pg 66), spiky fireworks achieved by coupling agave and yucca (pg 138) and the smoldering sensuality of “Bonfire”, a burgundy-leaf dwarf peach pressing against the tropical heat of Salvia ‘Louie’s Orange Delight (pg 206).

A Way With Words

The pictures alone are enough to make any self-respecting gardener run to the nursery, credit card in hand. But it is Scott’s handpicked, meticulously matched words that make this book such an enjoyable read. It might sound odd but this is the first garden design book I’ve read that could work in a books-on-tape format, sans photographs—the writing is that descriptive.

The example titled Inspired Calligraphy, Duncan Brine’s garden (pg 202) features ‘Nana’ dwarf purple willow, ‘Autumn Spire’ maple and “Tardiva’ hydrangea. Scott poetically describes the effect of the maple’s foliage: “Creeping into the vignette, the ‘Autumn Spire’ provides a dash of red, like a confident brushstroke in black and red Japanese calligraphy.”


Practical Pointers

From page 202.

Each planting combination includes a concise description of each plant’s growing preferences, mature size, hardiness zone and other useful facts. A good start, to be sure, but readers would be wise to expand their research before making their final plant selections.

Another unexpected treat is the Designer Tips on many pages, offering snippets of advice about such esoterica as how to remove spines from prickly pear cactus and how to design your garden for moonlight.

It’s Okay to Plagiarize

The examples in this book come from some of the finest private and public gardens in the country. That’s great, but what if you fall in love with one of the combos that grows like gang-busters in one climate but has no chance in your area?

For me, the solution is simple. Use the original design as a jumping-off point, extract the essence of the composition—saturated purple flowers paired with soft, fuzzy gray foliage, for instance—and substitute plants that will thrive in your garden. I would have a tough time justifying a mass of foxglove in my client’s dry southern California garden, but there are native penstemon species that provide the same rich blue flowers and vertical architecture.

Since imitation is the highest form of flattery, don’t feel guilty about borrowing ideas from great designers, then adapting and personalizing them for your own garden.  For me, that’s the real value of this inspiring, beautifully produced book from Scott Calhoun and Storey Publishing.

Can you say “Freebie”?

Note: To enter this drawing, you must CHANGE YOUR PROFILE IMAGE from one of the stock gardening images to an image of your own. For example, it could be a picture of you or something in your garden. If you already have an original profile image (also called an AVATAR), you can enter the drawing now by leaving a comment on this post.

Click here to go to the page where you can manage your profile. Use the “Browse” button on the right side of the screen to choose an image from your computer. Then click “Upload image.” The image can be up to 4 MB or 1,200 px.

After you change your avatar, leave a comment on this post to enter the drawing. Good luck!

Would you like a free copy of Designer Plant Combinations for your own? Thought so. Here’s what you do. Leave a comment below (you’ll need to register if you’re not already part of the Fine Gardening family). Tell me how you create plant combinations in your own garden. Does it come naturally? Do you find inspiration in great magazines, like right here at Fine Gardening? What is the most difficult part of garden design for you? Include any tips or tricks you can pass on to help other readers.

We’re giving away three copies chosen at random from everyone who comments. And if you don’t win, maybe a letter to Santa will do the trick.

All photographs in this article by Scott Calhoun.

Visit Scott Calhoun’s website.

For more on “One-of-each-it is” read my earlier blog post.

View Comments


  1. daffodilplanter 10/21/2009

    Hey, if the book is half as much fun as Billy's review then it's a hit!

  2. denniswestler 10/21/2009

    Sounds like a great book. I always get bogged down with plant choices, and would love to see gardens with as limited a palette that provide seasonal excitement and variety.

  3. gardeningmentor 10/21/2009

    Planting combos come more and more naturally these days, but that's after many years of trial and error as well as trial and success. Certainly, magazines like Fine Gardening, books like this as well as just taking a walk and admiring combos along the way help me come up with better and better combos.

    One of my favorite tips: go to a nursery, grab a cart and start putting plants together in the cart. Do they look good? Are they the right plants for the right place? Will they mature appropriately together? If so, go for it!

    Yes, sir, may I please have a copy? Billy's raves tell me this is going to be a must-have in any garden designer's library.

  4. PooBaa 10/21/2009

    I admit I am an exhibitionist when it come to my yard. I work hard to keep things looking great and get great satisfaction from my efforts. Always on the lookout for for ideas to make it better.

  5. jennieb17 10/21/2009

    I cut out magazine photos I love, take notes, draw sketches, wander others' gardens...then I throw it all out the window and buy whatever looks nice together on my cart at the garden center.

  6. lpangelrob 10/21/2009

    I'll usually get fixated on a particular plant. This year it was a baptisia cultivar.

    I haven't gotten around to designing around that plant (yet) but I'll usually build out from there.

  7. Willow_Hill_ 10/21/2009

    Planting decisions can be overwhelming! As a designer, I always look for parameters to follow to avoid the 'too many choices!' syndrome. Considerations like maintenance, water requirements, wildlife visitors good and bad, interest in natives and, most of all, client preferences really help me out. Given those, I love to make things interesting and inspiring! Books like this really help stimulate new and useful ideas to work with. Thanks for the offer!

  8. Indygardener 10/21/2009

    Hey Billy! My biggest design problem is that I also have a vegetable garden so I seem to automatically plant in straight lines elsewhere in the garden, 'cuz that's what we do in the vegetable garden - straight lines!

    As far as how I create plant combos...oh my, well, it's not pretty, let's just say that. I am in desperate need of a book like this. I need design help!

  9. mainegardener 10/21/2009

    What a great review. It has me drooling for the book and the plant combos. I follow Gardenmentors nursery cart approach, and I always do something I learned in design class - I stand back and squint my eyes. Sounds weird, but sometimes it can give you a new perspective - you can see how colors meld (or don't). What the shapes look like together.

    This works particularly well when trying daring color combinations - it really helps me see my design more holistically.

  10. JMTaylor 10/21/2009

    I'm into the 'naturalist' garden where (mostly native) plants are grouped by water requirements, and plant combinations are designed to favor hummingbirds, beneficial insect habitat, ot into thematic 'rooms' in the garden featuring various fruiting shrubs, trees and plants.

  11. mnist 10/21/2009

    Wow! After living out in the country with almost an acre of land for gardening, I now live in a smaller house with only a fraction of the space. This looks like the help I've been looking for.

    No more room for experimenting or buying plants just on a whim for me. I need a book that will help me make the most of my space and with as few plants as possible.

  12. SuzOH 10/22/2009

    This book sounds like something I need--I am trying to recover from “one-of-each-itis.” I have a space to re-design and plant next year, and this time I want to properly plan it so that I don't end up ripping everything out again.

  13. Kat_White 10/22/2009

    Great review. Sounds like a very intriguing book. The "six or fewer" seems a bit on the minimalist side, however. I must admit, though that I am a recovering plant collector.

    For my design inspiration I love visiting gardens, checking out magazines, even checking out photo sites like Flickr. I love playing with color combinations right at the nursery to see how two colors will play with each other. One of my favorite techniques I learned years ago is that when you look at a landscape and want to see what is missing color-wise, squint. When you only see blurry shapes, it's much easier to see a need for yellow over here or red over there.

  14. donna_3011 10/22/2009

    I'm inspired by other people's gardens and by my own trial-and-error thus allowing me to continue to indulge in plant buying. I try to use plants for textural and foliage contrast adding flowering plants sparingly for that seasonal variation of does take a lot of restraint!

  15. DYHGarden 10/22/2009

    I already have this book (not entering the contest) and can also say that it is full of garden eye candy!


  16. ColdClimateKathy 10/22/2009

    I was strongly influenced by Pamela Harper's book Color Echoes. I especially like to match the small amount of color on one plant to that same color in larger amount on a different plant.

  17. carriscary 10/22/2009

    I have no advice to offer- unless telling people what NOT to do counts? I suffer from one-of-each-itis. I'm sorry- I just see something I like and I buy it! My New Year's resolution for 2010 is to stop impulse plant buying. So I have two more months to buy what I can :)

  18. Soltouch 10/22/2009

    I am looking forward to winning my copy so I have have an awesome garden too!

  19. BriaDesigns 10/22/2009

    Thanks Billy for the great suggestion. I am so vindicated to hear someone else has noticed the gaudy kaleidoscope of plants used on some shows (and by some landscape companies here in GA). It seems to be a popular practice to just use as many colored and variegated plants as possible without thought to theme or an overall design palette. Simple is beautiful. I look forward to seeing more.

  20. LVNMPermie 10/22/2009

    Sounds like eyecandy and food for thought.

    I mainly design for sustainability, but if it looks great, all the better.

  21. LVNMPermie 10/22/2009

    "Tell me how you create plant combinations in your own garden. Does it come naturally? Do you find inspiration in great magazines, like right here at Fine Gardening? What is the most difficult part of garden design for you? Include any tips or tricks you can pass on to help other readers."


    I live in northeastern New Mexico, about 60 miles from Santa Fe-

    Here are my standards for plants to be included in my garden -

    Perennial or self-seeding
    Hardy in Zone 5
    Must be part of a community, and fill a niche such as nitrogen fixer, mulch plant, nutrient accumulator, insectary. Bonus points for plants that fill several of these niches simultaneously (e.g., a perennial clover that attracts bees and fixes nitrogen.)

    Must fill a human need (food, medicine, fiber, etc)

    Pretty comes last. But it helps ;-)

  22. Plantpassion 10/22/2009

    The book looks great, (will it be available in the UK?) and I love your invitation to plagerize, - that's where I get my best ideas from, - plantings at local gardens, - plus clipping all the best plant photograpy out of years of Garden magazines and putting them together in my own photo album source book. Which I get new ideas from each time I look at it.

  23. birdiewalk 10/22/2009

    I am relatively new to gardening and like many other novices, I suffer from one-of-each itis. I am trying to cure myself however by reading and learning from local gardens I visit. I try to look for form and texture combinations as well as color complements. I also try to pick combinations that share the same bloom time

  24. kim49 10/23/2009

    I try to balance color, texture and leaf shape, other times anything goes. Trying to use all the principles is a good starting point, but I have to love it and live with it first and fore most.

  25. skeater 10/23/2009

    Our Adult Ed teacher, Billy Goodnick, showed us this book on Wednesday evening. Wow! It really has some neat pictures and philosophy. I'm trying to do a "make over" of my mostly juniper and grass suburban "yard". I hate that name. I took out the grass and when I finish, I'll always call it a "garden" like they do in England!

  26. discoveringthewonder 10/24/2009

    Wow! I'd love to win a copy of this book!

    When I choose my planting combinations, I usually try to pick a group of plants that will have a nice color combination and a nice variation in height. I also look for plants that will grow well in the same spot and that will bloom at different times of the year.

    The most difficult part for me is remembering to plant things that will bloom throughout the season. For example, I like to have a flower bed with some spring flowers, summer bloomers, and also fall flowers. Fine Gardening helps to give me good ideas sometimes. I definitely like the fall recommendations in the October issue of Fine Gardening.

  27. tnt1066 10/24/2009

    When starting a new bed, I usually already have some boundaries in mind: maybe I have a color scheme or a purpose (like attracting hummers or hiding an ugly gas meter). Then I search for cultivars that appeal to me and suit the site... the right height, hardiness, colr, etc. Fine Gardening and other web sites help me in that search. I also visit a lot of gardens to see the plants in action in my zone to be sure they will perform in my garden.
    But sometimes I just fall in love at first sight with a plant, and throw everything I know about plantsmanship to the wind. If I really NEED the plant, then I will make a home for it in my garden and do whatever it takes to help it be happy.
    The biggest challenge for me is limiting myself to what will FIT into my over-crowded garden! Often I have to dig up something that has been a beloved member of the family for years and find it a home with friends or family in order to fit my newest treasure into the 'tendered chaos' I call a garden!

  28. user-7006873 10/24/2009

    One of the strategies I have used to create a plant combination came from a summer 2007 Fine Gardening publication titled Container Gardening. The design strategy presented revolved around the inclusion of three different plant forms which function as either a thriller, filler or spiller. The thriller is a bold centerpiece such as Canna, Cordyline or Melianthus. The filler is billowy and fills the space up, down and sideways, examples include Plectranthus, Osteopermum, or Carex. The spiller is a graceful trailer that unifies the whole composition. Lotus vine, Verbena and Licorice plant are useful spillers.

    With this strategy I created a stunning container combo using Bird of Paradise as the thriller, Leatherleaf Sedge and Jacob's Coat as the fillers and Dichondra 'Silver Falls' as the spiller.

    Although this was presented as a design strategy for container plantings it works equally as well for in ground plantings.

  29. ClovisPlantLady 10/24/2009

    One of my favorite combinations this year has been red yucca, California fuchsia and Texas Ranger. They still look great and held up on a hot corner in the Fresno heat with pavement on two sides.

    The book sounds great.

  30. UpstateGirl 10/24/2009

    I love using plants that are hardy perennials that will return each year like old friends. Being deer-resistant is a huge factor for me. What I find challenging is putting together a garden that can look interesting during different seasons of the year. I get ideas from books, newspaper articles, this wonderful website, and gardens I visit.

  31. lovehopefaith2001 10/24/2009

    I love cotainer gardening and have just started a perinneal bed this year, I need help with what to add to it this spring. This book sounds like just what I need. With container combo's, I learned the thriller,filler,spiller technique from the fine gardening website. It works wonderfully!!!

  32. ChestnutCabinCook 10/24/2009

    Hi everyone! When I consider combinations, I mostly think about color, texture, shape, and season of bloom. But I also have to consider hardiness, pest and disease resilience, soil conditions, light, water and space requirements, invasiveness, special care, and expense. And then there are plants that I simply just love for themselves, whether or not they blend, contrast, or fit in with other plants. I can't discount the volunteers, the plants that come from who-knows-where that grow roots amidst my most rational landscape plan. Or the gift plant that I really, really want to tuck in somewhere where it will excel. And if my family or neighbors have allergies, think again! With all this to consider, my head hurts!

    My best recipe for combinations is to use, well, a combination approach that starts with a solid base of information and knowledge that I learn from magazines, books and Internet sources - the ABC's. Then I add what I see in other gardens that I admire. I like to walk around nurseries for inspiration (and deals!). And I fear not to move, remove and transplant to more closely approach the garden of my dreams. Good luck and happy gardening to you all!

  33. anouchka 10/25/2009

    I cannot tell a lie...although I may embellish. My principle gardening strategy is epiphany.

  34. gailrose 10/25/2009

    How creative to write an idea book for plant combinations.
    I would love to have a copy just to gaze at the garden contrasts in color, texture, form and repetition through the eyes of a designer. Limiting to a concise plant palette and repetition creates that "well-designed" look.

  35. ChestnutCabinCook 10/26/2009

    I'd love a chance at this drawing, but my photo wasn't posted with my entry below (??) Happy gardening!

  36. aricchia 10/26/2009

    Good review, Billy. If I don't win this book through your blog, then it's going on my Christmas list. Your discussion of colors and textures have helped me recognize a very poor choice in my own garden - a few months ago, I planted marigolds in my purple, lavendar, magenta and sea-green garden. Do I hear the Billy Goodnick scream?! It's terrible. BUT having learned a little something along the way, I just planted a bed of cyclamen in an east-facing bed on the driveway. It integrates perfectly with the rest of the garden. NOW I really get what you mean about colors and textures. The marigolds have to go.

  37. BillyGoodnick 10/26/2009

    Hey boys and girls! Billy here. I need to express how much I've enjoyed all your comments and insights. I learn from all of you just as some of you are picking up pointers from me. That's what this zany, madcap internet thang is all about.

    I especially enjoyed Westerner's borrowed idea of "thriller, filler and spiller" from an older Fine Gardening article. So I went to the nursery the other day with that in mind and picked out plants from my two big front porch pots. I video taped my plant hunt and hope to post a video on my expedition in the near future.

    Keep those comments coming, but please heed the yellow sidebar: you need to update your avatar to be in the running.

    Billy Geeeeee!!!!!!!

  38. Arbutus79 10/28/2009

    Nothing gets my creativity flowing like a design book full of beautiful plant pictures!

  39. troutwerks 10/28/2009

    I select plant combinations based on what I see in design books and what I've found to work well together. Colour plays a very important role in my plantings.

  40. mrsbergeron 10/28/2009

    I love to create plant combinations by perusing a number of books/magazines. I inherited quite a bit of college (plant)text books & local area- (Southern zone 8)books from my mother in law. She was a horticulturist and I also inherited her love of plants.

    I would love a copy of this book!

  41. Deziner 10/28/2009

    I design both on paper and out in the field.
    When in the office it starts with acknowledging the architecture and site.
    The second step is requesting the current plant availability list from the nursery who I plan on using ( preferably San Marcos Growers) for the project. It's always best to design with plants that you know are available.
    I start layering with form, shape , texture and foliage color.

    After the basic concept is developed I will often go to the nursery and set up a mock planting in the nursery isle. Often times I will discover a plant that was not on the nursery availability list and works in perfectly with the developing chartette.

    That is my basic plant design process. It starts out on paper, moves to the nursery and eventually to the job site, where it usually is tweeked a little bit here and a little bit there.

  42. sbfireman 10/29/2009

    Don't really have a method - so the book would be a great help to me!!!

  43. Toonmoose 10/29/2009

    I like Japanese Anemones (the white ones, (Andria Adkins) underplanted with Johnsons Blue geraniums. They are both hardy perennials that just get better each year. Also, they offer both early and late season interest in our East coast, zone 6 garden.

  44. nnancya 10/29/2009

    I have an area that is by a walkway and totally exposed to deer and rabbit depredations. It also is backed by a very large natural meadow, which is green in spring and brown in fall. I am trying grasses, enlivened by euphorbias, digitalis, salvias (some), and verbenas. I do stick in other things to try. The ones the deer leave alone are then evaluated for form and color contrast.

  45. AGUS 10/31/2009


  46. NestInStyle 11/01/2009

    I love Scott Calhoun's desert designs. He is my go-to-guy for Southwest inspiration. I have a friend who lives in Tucson and we looked at his website for ideas for her backyard. This book would be a great resource to add to my bookshelf.

    Pick me, pick me!!!

    Love FG, btw,


  47. icyv 11/02/2009

    Can one have too many gardening books? I think not. Sure hope I win!

  48. JoniF 11/02/2009

    Keeping the plant combination to six or fewer is hard for me. I go to the garden center and there are so many things that catch my eye! I am keeping a folder of magazine and newsletters to corral my ideas in one place. Next spring I plan to use them to create a list of specific items to shop for and keep my impulsive buys to a minimum.

  49. sondrakesler 11/02/2009

    I love this book! I have checked it out of the library several times.

  50. tfmgt 11/02/2009

    After years of buying one of everything at the garden center, planting the poor things on top of one another and just being happy to see a few straggly blooms, I finally caught on that it is the composition of the garden that matters - like in art! With this amazing new insight, I won a local landscaping contest! I need this book to further my efforts - it looks awesome! tfmgt

  51. GlennPosh 11/02/2009

    I have long said less is More and this book finally tells us how, and where.Also the concept of texture when your potting up theses jewels.Color yes.but texture should always be there when there are no blooms. This is not only a book of imformation, but a book on art, and how you bring art into the garden.If I don't win, I will deffenitely want to buy this beauty!!!GlennPosh

  52. carolstenvt 11/02/2009

    For me, the challenges are having an aesthetically pleasing garden through all the seasons, and still have it look natural, not contrived or too controlled. I think this book looks like a great resource.

  53. agardeneriam58 11/02/2009

    Love new ideas for my garden. Looking forward to seeing Billy's book. The quality of the pictures are beautiful.

  54. agardeneriam58 11/02/2009

    Woops! wrote Billy's book but meant Scott's book.

  55. sjh142 11/02/2009

    My garden has evolved over the years and I love to experiment with different plant combinations. Gardening book, magazines and an occasional visit to the local botanical gardens have given me the most inspiration.This book would definitely give me more ideas.

  56. myhoney 11/02/2009

    This book sounds like exactly what is needed to reel in my tendency to want one of everything at the nursery! I have begun to snap photos of yards that I admire and then search for similar plantings, but this book will help considerably to determine what will work in my gardens. Sure hope I win it, but I'll buy it if I don't. . .

  57. alanincp 11/02/2009

    Looks good. Would like to see more of the book.

  58. MGPidge 11/02/2009

    I get most of my ideas from books like this and seeing what other people have done that I like. This book looks like it would be a great addition to my gardening library.

  59. MGPidge 11/02/2009

    I get most of my ideas from books like this and seeing what other people have done that I like. This book looks like it would be a great addition to my gardening library.

  60. user-7006874 11/02/2009

    This book looks great! I definitely struggle with garden design...I tend to buy whatever strikes my fancy, then get home and can't decide where to plant! Would love to get hold of this book! :)

  61. CarlaL 11/02/2009

    I'm a bit artistic so I love unexpected splashes of color. I'd love to be one of the winner of your new book!

  62. tipnmillie 11/02/2009

    Can't wait to take a closer look at the book. I make mistakes all the time...mostly by putting plants in to keep them alive and then editing and moving and pruning later. Obviously, I need to do this in a more efficient order.

  63. user-7006875 11/02/2009

    Good books can provide the sparks for personal expression and creation in our gardens. This sounds from the review to be a book to ignite a few sparks of imagination and get gardens growing with great design and personal touches by anyone that would read it.

  64. 2sad 11/02/2009

    Would love to have this book on my bookshelf. I am in the process of revitilising a rock garden and need ideas that are able to be three season beautiful. Also needs to be low maintance. Then there is the companion planting in the veggie garden. As I am unable to keep up all the beds as I used to, need tips on low maintance,yet visually pleasing.
    Sounds like Billy's book might help.

  65. EMURetiree 11/02/2009

    Sounds wonderful! And what could be better for the long Michigan winter ahead than this compliment my Fine Gardening magazine!

  66. pfix 11/02/2009

    Once of the most challenging aspects, for me at least, is deciding what plants make the most pleasing combinations but for color and texture but also for continuous display. This sounds like the perfect answer to my dilema.

  67. yz326 11/02/2009

    I love reading a good gardening book for recreation, especially when it is written by someone who has an ear for words as well as an eye for design. One of my favorite writers is Christopher Lloyd, and I learn a lot that translates from his estate to my small garden; the attraction is his way with words. I'd love to meet a writer new to me who combines good pictures with graphic word images. Now that I have come down to two small raised beds, I especially need help with keeping them from looking spotty with too many individual plants.

  68. CTGarden 11/02/2009

    This is just what I need. I never remember what size the plant will grow to. So I plant and plant and then I move and move again. I the book I can find the plants I have and add to the area with the correct plant combination. My Dream would be to have a blank slate and start over...but that will never happen. Even if I don't win this will be my new book to purchase!

  69. ColoradoMG 11/02/2009

    I thoroughly enjoyed Scott's first book "Yard full of Sun" and I would love to add his new one to my collection. He is my kind of gardener and designer--natives in the right places.

  70. Donnasuer 11/02/2009

    Moved to N.Idaho 3 years ago and have no clue what to plant. Could use some help in this area.

  71. tlhubbubs 11/02/2009

    This book sounds like just what I need. We recently moved to a country home with a large yard and I could really use some help picking plants that grow well together. It would also be a very welcomed reference for which plants need full sun, partial sun, or shade. Thank you for all your helpful hints and information in your newsletters.

  72. Christinamarie 11/02/2009

    The book sounds like a wonderful addition to my plant "library". I love gardening and planting flowers has always been my favorite. I get many ideas by browsing garden books, but my best ideas have come by deciding the colors that I love in plants that grow well in my area. I group them first by size,color,and end the garden plan with beautiful groundcover. I have to admit that "pink" has become my favorite plant color since I have become a breast cancer survivor! Many of my gardens were limited to indoor containers until I was able to build my strength enough to work outside. A flower, much like LIFE, is a gift, so be sure to enjoy each one!

  73. carh 11/02/2009

    Honestly I have no idea what I'm doing when I put plants together. I definately read alot of books and magazines to get some inspiration. The only tip I have is, believe in newspaper. I use it in my beds to keep weeds down. It works better than lanscaping fabric, because nothing can grow on top of it. I've used both.

  74. MaplewoodFern 11/02/2009

    I love the permission to plagiarize. After shying away from deliberate design schemes for many years, I've realized that even a smallish garden can benefit from subtle planning that guides a visitor (or a gardener) through it and around it. The few combinations here are so seductive.

  75. moonbeam714 11/02/2009

    This book is exactly what I need !! I love gardening but have a problem with space in my yard. My hope has always been to create a garden which looks beautiful from Spring to Fall.

  76. lglowa 11/02/2009

    My garden is overrun with too many plants that are randomly, not artistically combined. This book would great assist in the redesign process.

  77. vancouvergirl 11/02/2009

    This looks like a great book. I am always looking for new ideas for combinations. Especially for my pots.

  78. Flowers4Fun 11/02/2009

    I just planted an english style garden this year and my trick was to start with height, then I closed my eyes and placed them as they maytA gardening book that helps with layout...that would be worth the read. I just told a girlfriend the other day that you need lots of reference books. This sounds like a 'must have'.

  79. magyking 11/02/2009

    I'm always looking for eye candy of the floral type. This sounds like it would certainly qualify. Can't wait to see it.

  80. kbaumle 11/02/2009

    If I end up with a great container combo, it's generally by chance. I'll get inspiration from various sources - public gardens, online examples, and from books and magazines. This book looks like it was written for gardeners like me!

  81. jlamf 11/02/2009

    Garden design . . . Hmmm. While I salivate over the photos in Fine Gardening, I'm limited to a)plants that will survive here on the edge of zone 3; and b)plants that deer/chipmunks/moles/voles and the neighbor's dogs will leave alone.

    I need help!

  82. LittleM 11/02/2009

    This book really seems to help inspire readers to use plants in the landscape that are not commonly seen in most landscape designs. I believe this to be a great quality, and one that I would like to incorporate in my own gardens.

  83. TheWriteGardener 11/02/2009

    I don't use any special planning when I pot up my combos. It's usually a willy nilly mix up that either looks great, or gets moved to the back of the garden where it can scare the deer away.

  84. fiberlover75 11/02/2009

    "Designer Plant Combinations" is exactly what I need. I have not trouble making plants grow, but when I'm plant shopping I tend to want a little of everything. That results in a hodgepodge in the my garden. I'd really like a "picture perfect" display for a change.

  85. beckia 11/02/2009

    Right now, I'm in the process of "redesigning" my gardens. I just acquired a whole bunch of new perennials from my friend and am wondering where and how I am going to use them. I usually have a color scheme worked out, but am always changing something in it each year. My "new" plants go into the veggie garden for the winter here in zone 4--time to rest under the leaves and eventually snow until I decide where they go. I think that this book would be just the "ticket" for me.

  86. dizzy4plants 11/02/2009

    As the snow is beginning to move in, this book makes one wish for spring to hurry.

  87. martydew 11/02/2009

    I watch to see how plants grow and then, if needed, move them to where they look best.

  88. irritated 11/02/2009

    We are re-doing an acreage garden that is filled with a wide variety plants, many of which are not suitable for the site. It would be simple to destroy and start over but I just can't bring myself to do that. So, one-by-one we dig up and give away plants that we have determined not to keep in the mix. An arduous process. This book sounds like a helpful tool for the next steps.

  89. grammythegardener 11/02/2009

    Just like lots of other folks, I tend to plant my flowers without much design in mind and am often sorry I didn't take the time. I also feel I have no talent for it so this book is perfect for me!

  90. JoAnn1967 11/02/2009

    My husband is our gardeber and he loves every second of it .
    He was able to retire last June and now he plans to spend all his spare time working on the garden. He is trying to do all of the ,honey do's, this year so he can do gardening all next season. We garden and he helps me can and freeze what we harvest. Love the home grown foods and share with our friends and neighbor and the members of our church!

  91. bzbmom 11/02/2009

    Well the only comment I can make is I have been designing a flower garden for 40 years and each year it looks worse. I need all the help I can get. Wish I had some pictures to show.

  92. norman_m 11/02/2009

    can't wait to start my brand new garden in the spring!

  93. alwaysinthegdirt 11/03/2009

    This looks like a wonderful book. I am a landscape designer and my best plant combinations and designs are the ones that I haven't agonized over. I am a firm believer that the garden is never 'finished', therefore I find myself moving plants around. We have a third of an acre and a beautiful view of our backyard from our family room, so I'm always looking for that 'wow' factor - that great focal point or color combination that I can use as examples to show my customers. I would love to add this book to my gardening library!

  94. tupproach 11/03/2009

    I have tried to look at each plant and how they will work in the garden. I had designed the garden at my previous house and look forward to doing the same at this new house. this book will make it alot easier to put together some great looks.

  95. maureen315 11/03/2009

    I've loved your magazine ever since I discovered it approximately 10 years or more ago. It is well written and I recently subscribed to it again after many years of living in apartments.
    The book that is being offered sounds just perfect because I don't have a clue how to mix plants. I look at pictures but don't seem to have the initiative to do anything about it. I guess I'm afraid of failure. This book may give me just what I need to add some adventure to my gardens.

  96. agardener 11/03/2009

    I love to share S. Calhoun's THE HOT GARDEN and YARD FULL OF SUN. He is a joy to read as well as to view his amazing photos. Wonderful inspirations - can't wait for this book as well.

  97. Tefame 11/03/2009

    When I'm putting a new garden design together, my goal is to create a palette that suits the space and style of the garden-owner. I also seek to find eye catching combos that have unique texture, a good mixture of color, and a variety of bloom/color times so that the garden stretches throughout the year. I love pouring over garden-design idea books for new inspiration...I would be thrilled to have a new book for my idea library! Thanks for the chance to win.

  98. cvuser 11/03/2009

    Being from Hawaii, I absolutely love flowers and their scent. While many plants are tropical and cannot take the Oklahoma cold, I try to add color to my garden by rotating plants. Actually, I throw them all in there. I use hardy plants and perinnials that bloom at different times of the year, keeping me in pretty flowers year round. From the early tulips,box flowers, amaryllis, clematis, irises,Josephs coat, to the fall mums and gerber daisies. With skillful direction, this book will help my garden be "awakened/alive" with fresh, new ideas and pizazz, with simplicity.. I drool at the prospect.

  99. MG_Lori 11/03/2009

    I hate winter; I want to be outside with my hands in the dirt! Spring, come soon!

  100. JAL85 11/03/2009

    What a great idea!! I begin by looking through magazines and catalogs in late December. Then, I make my "wish list". I set it aside for a couple of weeks, then research. Then an overwhelming feeling of "what the heck am I doing?!!" sets in. It is so hard to make the right choices for my yard...there are so many from which to choose. I would love to have this book!!

  101. dadzdadz 11/03/2009

    I'm ready for next spring. Can't wait!!!

  102. northwestCindy 11/03/2009

    The book looks great lot's of pictures and info I'm trying to plan a design in my front yard that will have evergreens,flowering plants and grasses that will look beautiful year around Thank You for the chance to win the book it will be great to add to my other garden books

  103. squiddly 11/03/2009

    I have a small patio at the back of my house where I like to showcase my favorite plants. These plants are kept in decorative or black nursery pots and I change the pots around all year to make different plant combinations. I use concrete pavers under some pots to add height. A particular plant that is covered in blooms will get center stage until the flowers fade and then I will replace it with another dazzler or two. In winter I bring up all of my evergreens and some grasses that have turned their winter colors and create a new scene to enjoy from my windows. In summer, I make sure I put fragrant potted plants on tables next to my patio chairs at nose height to enjoy the fragrance and detail of the flowers.

  104. Wood_Nymph 11/03/2009

    Learning to use fewer plant varieties is a hard lesson to learn. When you look at a garden and it looks just too busy or messy, then you need to simplify!

  105. aleach61 11/03/2009

    I'm not very good at combining plants, so I get my daughter to help. She has the greenest thumb in our family.

  106. suepalmer 11/03/2009

    The only thing better than a great book is a great garden

  107. teemgee 11/03/2009

    My small North Carolina yard has gotten shadier and shadier every year. Plants that need sun have to live out by the street. I try new combinations every year, and would love some inspiration for my winter dreaming and scheming.

  108. omasuzy 11/03/2009

    Hi, Sound like everyone can't wait to get this book. I'm not a season gardener But I plant every year all I can I have Hosta every where. My inspiration come from my child hood I followed my Grandmother all around the yard and garden, she had such a beautiful Iris flower beds everywhere and me with a million questions about all the flowers and plants. I must have drove her crazy but she never let on. This is where I get inspired the inspiration to get out and do it, It just in me from her. Plant combination I think of color and size. Most difficult thing for me is this red clay soil so, I've learn to compost everything put egg shells coffee grounds bananas well you get what I'm meaning. Just don't waste anything compost leaves all just till it in are turn it in are put it around in the winter plants and shrubs love the leaves.

  109. ginny0101 11/03/2009

    My garden is screaming for help. I'm just doing what I think I need, but it never looks calm and beautiful. I'm never happy with it. So please help me and send your book so I can go to the nursery at Lowe's and have them get me the correct plants, shrubs, trees and flowers for an awesome garden. Being recently retired, I now have the time to be in my garden and enjoy MY time. I can use your book and be able to save money but make my garden fabulous. Thanks.

  110. willing2learn 11/03/2009

    I have spent the last growing season getting rid of an invasion of "Buttercups". I have been too busy with kids and sports to keep on top of this weed, but times have changed.
    We have refreshed the soil and planted lots of bulbs for Spring.
    The Buttercups destroyed most of the plants in the garden so I am starting again from scratch and can hardly wait. This book will be perfect to get me started again.

  111. user-7006871 11/03/2009

    Its books such as this and garden visits/tours that encourage us to look at our own gardens with a fresh eye and do something "new"!

  112. celtic_dog 11/03/2009

    The best part of my garden this year was the border beds of my vegetable garden. They distracted the eye from the unfinished brick paths between the raised beds. The mix of veggies and flowers from artichokes to zucchini with cosmos sunflowers and sages thrown in was almost directly copied from a sketch in Richard Merrill's The Gardener's Table. I plan to plagarize again next year.

  113. Toughbook 11/03/2009

    I have always enjoyed designing garden beds and experimenting with colors, textures and arrangements. Your book will definitely be a great resource. Over the last 35 years, we have watched our newly planted trees mature and change our gardens from sunny to shady areas. It's a real challenge to select plants that can grow with little sunlight. Hopefully, your book will give me some new strategies to implement.

  114. sunterra7 11/03/2009

    I am at the point now where I understand how using larger numbers of a smaller variety of plants can lead to a more pleasing design....wish I had figured this out years ago! This book looks very inspiring!

  115. mg_john 11/03/2009

    I'm currently working on year round appeal around a large water feature and hope this book will yield good ideas.

  116. BettyBoop2 11/03/2009

    Originally from Hawaii, I love flowers and color. Living on the dry side of Oregon is a fun challenge. I learn a lot reading the design articles in Fine Gardening and other gardening books. Plant combos are always interesting as the palette is ever changing. A chance to win this book would be terrific!

  117. rainierdog 11/03/2009

    This book would be a treasured addition to my gardening library.

  118. dark_phoenix 11/03/2009

    I find inspiration for plant combinations everywhere! In magazines like Fine Gardening, in books, in other peoples gardens, from my work in design and art. And I do a lot of walking around with plants in my hands, giving them auditions with other plants.

    I like to work with color the most, but I also work with contrasting textures of leaves and bark. Sadly, there are times when I discover that the plants that look stunning together don't have the same soil/water/sun needs! Sounds like this book could help with that!

    I admit I'm one who would have a 'plant zoo' if I didn't exercise some self control. I want one of everything!

  119. madiris1999 11/03/2009

    In my passion for gardening, I am never satisfied! This book could help me edit my endless moving and pruning of plants and give me some design peace!!!

  120. appaloosa 11/03/2009

    I would like to retire and use your book to add new features to my yard.

  121. lamd 11/03/2009

    Thanks for having the contest. When I'm trying to relax at the end of the day, I love to read gardening books with great photos.

  122. lamd 11/03/2009

    Thanks for having the contest. When I'm trying to relax at the end of the day, I love to read gardening books with great photos.

  123. lindasn 11/03/2009

    I get my ideas from magazines like Fine Gardening, Sunset and others, and visiting gardens. Years ago I saved the back cover picture from FG of a beautiful plant combination. I thought I would never find one of the plants locally, but amazingly enough, I recently did and now have this combo edging the length of our home. I would love to see this book. I have a area I could really use it on right now.

  124. bwenright 11/03/2009

    If you look in a dictionary next to "one-of-a-kind-itis" you would see ME! I am the classic ooaki. :)
    I have tried doing more designing with my garden, but the main area behind the house looks like a paint splattered canvas, the eye has trouble deciding where to settle. I need help!!

  125. ongardening 11/03/2009

    My efforts with plant combination have been most successful when combining succulents in containers. My approach usually involves a slow-motion, trial & error strategy, in which I put a selection of plants in a large container and watch as they grow in size and produce flowers.

  126. gardenbliss 11/03/2009

    My cold winter days are spent leafing through garden books and magazines planing and dreaming as I wait for the arrival of those Springs bulbs and Forthysia. This book would aid in my garden fantacies.

  127. hydrangea 11/03/2009

    One of my favorite ways to relax is by browsing through plant books and magazines. I'm inspired by beautiful color photographs of plant combinations and vignettes that look to me like little works of art. In my own garden, I keep the palate simple--just two or three colors in each of my small flower gardens. Of course, mine never look as good as the experts', so I'm always looking for new inspiration!

  128. stellaesdale 11/03/2009

    On my morning walk yesterday, I came across the most beautiful confederate rose. It was 9'feet tall and had beautiful white with pink inside blooms.

  129. FuzzBrigadeMom 11/03/2009

    I agree with DaffodilPlanter! This book would be a great addition to my library, due to all the moving we have to do for the Air Force! Just moved to Louisiana from Delaware! Now I have had to learn a whole slew of new ideas and information about the state regarding plants, climate, everything!

  130. kellybird1954 11/03/2009

    I love reading gardening books and catalogs. I know this one would be a great addition to the shelf. I'm pretty successful with my plant choices, but would like to do better.

  131. applewine 11/03/2009

    Question: How many gardening books does one person need?
    Answer: As many as you can fit on your bookshelf!

    I love books like this full of gorgeous photography; they inspire me to try new combinations and plantings in my own gardens. My biggest challenge is keeping some color and interest happening across the seasons.

  132. Geege 11/03/2009

    HELP!!! We purchased 18 acres of property a year ago. What a piece of say, is my dilemma? There is absolutely no landscaping. I am lost and confused and have no idea where to start or what to do. I am a city girl who just moved to the country. Gardening is like a foreign language to me. What little I have done so far I truly enjoy. This book would become a long lost companion and help to inspire my blank canvas!

  133. Sarben 11/03/2009

    Good to see so much response. The subject is very useful.

  134. gothicmuse 11/03/2009

    The cover of the book is so colorful and attractive that it would definitely make me pick it up to browse through it and if the information on the inside is as pleasing as the cover, then I would be likely to purchase it...but winning one would be even better!

    What a great way to get people to take a look at this book!


  135. MorningstarSun 11/03/2009

    WOW! Another beautiful book with stunning photos to offer me possible options to transition into a hoped for beautiful garden of my own, which of course will never be done! This is truly 'eye candy' for a gardener's soul yet I do approach it with caution since I love stunning simplicity more than voluptuous bounty. There's quite a line to walk here.

    Though a course with Cornell named me a Master Gardener, a true oxymoron, I'm actually a neophyte, hardly knowing all there seems to be to know by any means. My earlier garden came into being through the generous plant contributions of fellow gardeners, though now I'm acquiring a more discerning eye, developing my own tastes, providing a series of generous curves to a sloping land (using lasagna gardening to ease my back) as well as rounding out all around the house, softening corners with Nine-barks or billowy grasses or trees, all to try to stay with Feng Shui guidelines too! Gotta watch those poison arrows!

    I'd love this book! I'm also a book addict, actually having more than I've read, gathering info through the osmosis of presence!

  136. hontell 11/03/2009

    I love looking at photose of other gardens and try to use the ideas I like. Of course nothing ever blooms at the right time. does anyone ever have the perfect combination of light and moisture?

  137. GrammySusan 11/03/2009

    I like plants and flowers. I like books. I'd like to win.

  138. ajroy 11/03/2009

    I love to get inspired by books such as this and, with such a glowing review, why not this one?

  139. anneclark 11/03/2009

    I am looking forward to seeing what others have created. I love creating beauty with plants and like to contrast foliage colors as well as the texture and form of the plants

  140. SunnySue2k 11/03/2009

    My husband and I bought a home 5 years ago that has about 1 acre of land. We don't have a big budget or any landscaping at all. I want to start small and do something with the front of the house for curb appeal. We have shade in the morning and sun in the afternoon by our front porch. I would expect the right thing to do first is to get some bushes then plant around them. A book with some layout patterns would help. I know we are in zone 7. I got that information from Van Bourgondien on the internet. Any help you can give would be nice.

  141. Hondohoopster 11/03/2009

    The book sounds like it would be a great guide and inspiration. Even with a design background I take in all I can from other perspectives to inform and refine my own vision. I look forward to utilizing this new resource.

  142. mares13 11/03/2009

    I would love all the help that I can get! I have a lovely little house and a great little yard, but limited space, so I always am looking for the perfect plants!

  143. KRaeHill 11/03/2009

    I love gardening books and magazines and get great ideas from the photos and articles. Although I sort of have a knack for design, I'm always looking for inspiration and ideas wherever I can find them.

    My biggest problem is that I LOVE plants and I want them ALL!

  144. Gail7 11/03/2009

    My Dad told me that it takes 5 years to get a garden the way you like it. I'm a case of arrested development, because mine is still being edited on a seasonal basis after 9 years. Plant combinations involve so many different aspects the there are never enough sources! This book looks like a perfect addition to a gardener's bookshelf. I cannot bring myself to get rid of my old Fine Gardening magazines--I find new ideas every time I look through them.

  145. wthhyb 11/03/2009

    My husband and I plan many combos for the perennial garden, but our best always seem to come by accident. The California poppies that sprouted under the blood red shrub roses were radiant!

  146. Countryside 11/03/2009

    I'd love to get a copy of the book. It sounds like something I would love to learn from and use. My inspiration for garden combos often comes from some of the well-known gardens I've been fortunate enough to visit - Kew, Powerscourt, and even the beautiful landscaping and gardens around the various Smithsonian museums. Being outside in the garden is one of the best experiences there is!

  147. naturalart 11/03/2009

    I prefer using perennials and small evergreens in our combo pots. I use all types of containers, concrete, tea kettle, broken clay pots on their sides. Best tip, just try it, you'd be surprised at how successful combo pots can be.

    I need some new, fresh ideas and this would be a great addition to our big plant book library!!

  148. berly 11/03/2009

    I would love to have a nice book to give me more ideas for the yard. My current yard started out as just bermuda grass and 5 beautiful redwoods. Lucky for me I run a Landscape maintenance route and have completed my beautiful yard with all the plants torn out from various redo's, so I've accumulated a variety of beautiful plants and the cost couldn't be beat. Good luck everyone in getting those books!!

  149. user-7006877 11/03/2009

    I would love to add this book to my library. It is already overflowing with helpful manuals, epics, handbooks, books of gorgeous photographs, words of many authoritative experts...none of which have to date helped me become a garden designer. My perennial beds continue to be annual exercises in moving, changing, discarding, trying again, wondering what happened to that great plant I bought and put right there, I'm sure of it! My best combination this season was a motley collection of mixed echinacea that I bought at the end of last year and planted around my favorite oldfashioned purple. It may sound garish but the effect was stunning, at least to me. Now to see if it comes back next year.

  150. msfancyplants 11/04/2009

    Any time spent with a plant is an adventure waiting to happen! In my surrounding woods and gardens, another one's gardens, an orchid on my piano, or on the pages of a book - I have completely lost track of all time wandering such places. This is how I hope others come to know the spaces I plant for them. I will always tuck in an Asclepias plant for the Monarchs or a bit of Dill for the Swallowtails and allow a curious onlooker to discover the marvelous world of butterflies in their own backyard. My gardens blend native plants to my zone 5 with certain compatible non-natives for a wildlife friendly piece of the planet. I focus on foliage, masses of single color, attention to various plant heights and repeating plants keeps a large property all connected. Love it!

  151. snollygaster 11/04/2009

    Thanks for the fine book review and the opportunity to win the book. I get my inspiration for plant groupings from observation as well as books and mags (yes, Fine Gardening!). I find the most difficult part sticking to a given theme eg, say I have chosen a particular garden room to have a mediterranean theme or whatever and sticking to it.

  152. hjwesq 11/04/2009

    sounds like a good book to keep for reference

  153. gardnerdesign 11/04/2009

    nature is my inspiration. and Natives are my first choice for a plant palette. there are, of course, some non-invasive exotics/ornamentals, that can be worked in as well. look forward to reading this book. thx.

  154. Sandra_Lynne 11/04/2009

    Are there tips in the book on what to plant that deer won't eat? Those would be tips I could use.

  155. victoriak 11/04/2009

    I would love a copy of this book. I have a terrible problem choosing plants. I'm one of those who picks up anything I like without considering how it will look with what's already there.

  156. Sherbonne 11/04/2009

    The bane of my existence is the area in my front yard with three utility boxes. Maybe this would have some ideas to help cover those up?

  157. shadelover 11/04/2009

    My garden has lots of shade. Some full shade, some part shade and very little full sun. The trick is too find the happy spot for my plants. What grows well in one area of my garden does not always grow well in another area. Any advice this
    book could give would be greatly appreciated. I love to look and read new books.

  158. User avater
    hortdork 11/04/2009

    Sometimes plant combinations can be tricky, especially since I'm a plant hound! The "I just have to have that"! Problem always makes my yard look like a plant orphange for the one of this or one of that. I try to keep within my plant color scheme and then throw a highlight into the mix. I also try to mix up textures and that helps keep it interesting. When I find a must have at the garden center, I walk around the rest of the plants putting it up to others to see how they play together. I'm also a glutton for printed material on gardeing etc... I love the Fine Gardening mag and many others for inspiration!

  159. gardengodess 11/04/2009

    Thanks,my garden could always use more inspiration. I'd love a copy.

  160. plentygoat 11/05/2009

    Oh I would love to win this book. Challenge here for me is to find good combinations of plants that will make it through the winter at 7200 feet above sea level. Winter is what you make of it and this book sure would help !

  161. mnmcandylady 11/05/2009

    Im not sure what will help you decide who wins...but believe me yard NEEDS your book's help!!

  162. southernsoil 11/05/2009

    Only six plants? Wow! This book could be pocketbook therapy for me. Or I would have to have one-hundred and fifty of each. Sounds like a nice addiction to my library.

  163. BloominLooney 11/05/2009

    As a plant lover, it is easy to have a collection garden, and there is nothing wrong with that; it can look great with some limiting parameters or an artist's eye. But I find that, as my garden matures, I have been simplifying and simplifying. It has to do with scale and visual impact of larger swaths of color. I think the six-plant idea has merit.

  164. User avater
    cosmo_girl 11/06/2009

    I just saw this book at my favorite book store and fell in love with it. I have to admit, my best plant combos have been happy accidents. I need this book.

  165. Will89 11/06/2009

    I liked that I have been permission to plagiarize. I feel like I have been permission to do something really naughty, but really quite fun. (Understand that I work in a school library, so we do teach that plagiarizism is very naughty!)

  166. VioletAnne 11/06/2009

    My garden is a bit untidy and sort of "English"... I could really use some good advice on how to thin it out and add some " pizzazz". So far, it is kind of a hit and miss thing. If something likes my garden and manages to survive a Canadian zone 5 winter, I buy two more in the spring or split the new one...not exactly the best design strategy !

  167. sunrisegardener 11/10/2009

    I buy gardening magazines for the inspiration pictures. Fine Gardening is my "got to have" magazine as your photos are the best!
    My greatest gardening challenge is my growing conditions which are:cement like clay, dry shade, shallow roots due to large sugar maples, a squirrel chasing, plant squashing dog and a child who has to taste everything! If I knew 10 years ago, what I know now, I would have added as much compost as the trees could endure before even putting in a plant. I use a lot of natives and never use pesticides,nor any plant which is poisonous to people or pets. As a result, I have lots of butterflies, birds and other wild life.

    My greatest design challenge has been overcoming the "one-of-each-itis". What has helped me is to keep pictures handy of beds where I've planted in large drifts for motivation. I've developed some design ability, as I frequently see pictures in magazines of combinations I've put together myself. (A major motivator!) My best tip is to soak plants overnight before planting. I rip stuff out by the roots, throw them in the pond and soak again while planting. After that they are lucky if they get watered 1-2 times during the entire season. Did I mention they thrive with this treatment...

    I would love to win this book, as I'm always looking for new ideas for the areas I haven't finished yet. I could also use ideas for the other gardens I'm working on. Time to shred leaves...

  168. SteiderStudios 11/10/2009

    I confess I have 'one-of-each-itis'. When I bring a new plant home I stroll through my garden, auditioning it in each area as I pass through. When I find a spot for it I usually have a bit of rearranging to do in order to work it into that section. If it doesn't fit anywhere, I have enough space on my property that I begin a new bed. Which of course means I have to run out and buy more plants to fill in the 'new' bed.

    I love Fine Gardening and am always inspired by the articles and photos!! After reading your review, this is a must have book for me!!

  169. weeroo 11/14/2009

    Envisioning mature sizes is difficult in a new area. Moved from Michigan to subtropical southern Florida and even after 10 years it is still hard! I also have one-of-each-itis and take in a lot of stray and half dead plants to nurse so it gets goofy looking at times. Here we can garden year round, but that also means all the garden chores are year round too! And lots of clean up if you overplant because this stuff grows fast!

  170. user-7006878 11/17/2009

    Looks like a wonderful book. I sometimes plan my combinations on paper, trying to get a mix of textures, foliage size and form, and bloom times. Other times, I just wing it directly in the garden, but using the same principles. Sometimes things work out fine, but other times I have to tinker with the design to get it right.

    A few great combinations have resulted by accident from moving to a new house, and moving plants into a "holding" bed, with only a vague regard to design.

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