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Designer Plant Combinations: 105 Stunning Gardens Using Six Plants or Fewer [Kindle Edition]

Scott Calhoun
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Author Scott Calhoun has visited the gardens of top designers from coast to coast and selected more than 100 stunning plant combinations, each using no more than six plants, to include in this photographic guide. Riots of complementary colors, masses of grasses, foliage spectacles in extraordinary shades of green and purple, and height variations as arresting as city skylines are all featured in these exciting gardens, each one an intimate glimpse of a larger garden. A favorite pairing can be the beginning of a larger garden design, or a five-plant grouping might be all you need to fill a small urban garden. The possibilities are as varied as your imagination!

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Perfect Combinations from America's Top Garden Designers


Put plants together in your own backyard using the best combination ideas from design professionals across the country. More than 100 stunning gardens inspire you to mix and match your favorite plants with confidence. Spark your garden-design creativity with proven groupings, test-planted and enjoyed by the experts. It's easy when every combination uses no more than six different plants!


The exciting ensembles include a variety of textures, colors, and seasonal displays. You will find chapters devoted to Perennial Partners, Masses of Grasses, Annual Acquaintances, and Ground Cover Groupies. There are plants for every preference and colors for every season, with alternatives for various climates. Choose your favorite and plant it as a gorgeous focal point in your garden or as a splash of fresh color in a small space.

About the Author

Scott Calhoun is an award-winning garden designer and the author of two previous books, Chasing Wildflowers and Yard Full of Sun, for which he won the American Horticultural Society's book award in 2006. Formerly the "Garden Expert" for Tucson's CBS affiliate, Calhoun now writes a weekly garden design column for The Arizona Daily Star and the Western states plant notes column for Country Gardens magazine. He's also a regular contributor to Sunset and Horticulture magazines. His Web site is

Product Details

  • File Size: 9672 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (November 9, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A239448
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,518 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring handbook for perennial addicts December 31, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First of all the pictures--by the best garden photographers around. I doubt you will ever find such high quality reproduction or gorgeous pictures in such a convenient and incredibly inexpensive format. Second: diversity--what an extraordinary range of gardens, from cactus and desert stark to lush woodlands and of course classic English style herbaceous extravaganzas. By carving a manageable vignette out of what are often extremely complicated gardens, Scott makes it possible for the reader to duplicate the scene. More importantly, he shows how combos work: groundcovers melding together, focal point plants, see through designs--some nuts and bolts beautifully demonstrated. As well as being a very handy handbook, this is a valuable benchmark of garden design as practiced in America today: he's picked gardens from California to the east coast and everywhere in between to sample the range of outstanding garden design comprising the American perennial garden. The world is awash with mercurial computer images that constantly disappear and flicker away: books like this are monuments that capture the moment. They will never be replaced by websites or digitization.

Scott has produced four stunning and very different books in as many years. He is a force to be reckoned with: I don't know anyone who wouldn't be beguiled by the pictures and enlightened by the text. You will be delighted to own this one!
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected September 24, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was looking for a book that would help me design a garden, since I'm new to gardening. This book didn't really help. It's over 200 pages of lists of plants that the author believes go together, along with photos of the plants in combination. All sounds good, right? And if that's all you're looking for, this may work for you; the photos are beautiful, and there are written descriptions of each plant.

However, the problem for me is that almost all of the photos are close ups of the plants themselves, with no indication of what the whole garden looks like. Sometimes it's even hard to tell the size of the plant, since there's nothing to compare it to. If, like me, you're trying to decide where to put your plants, and how to arrange them in your garden, this book may not help very much.

My suggestion is that you first try to find the book in a library or bookstore and look it over before buying it. It's not a bad book in any way, just not what I need.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful Inspiration in a great package February 18, 2009
As anyone interested in gardening knows, there are thousands of books to choose from to help with garden design ideas. What sets this new book by Scott Calhoun apart is the absolutely perfect packaging for people like me who can't devote their whole lives to their gardens, yet want them to look as if we did. I love the organization of the book (perennials, grasses, annuals, accent plants, groundcovers and woodies) but most of all I love the way the vignettes are presented. Each combination has a full shot of the plants together, then there are separate "pull-outs" of the individual plants which include the botanic name, cultural conditions, maintenance tips and propagation methods. Various "Designer tips" are also scattered throughout the book highlighting tricks and tips that will help the reader become a real pro.
This book will appeal to gardeners of all levels, from the energetic novice to the professional looking for that inspirational "fix." It's a huge resource in a small package to keep alongside your garden gloves- make sure to pick it up every time you get ready to go out and "edit" your own garden.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The American Revolution in Garden Design April 3, 2010
There is a new language of garden design, and it is decidedly American. Appropriately named the New American Garden, it takes its inspiration from the recently introduced meadow gardens, the warm climate and flora of Southwestern USA, as well as a casual garden style that seeks to embrace the informality of nature. The New American Garden style is an alternative to traditional design. It is more relaxed, requires no deadheading or pesticides, and uses tough perennials such as Perovskia and Echinacea as well as ornamental grasses.

The author makes it very clear that some old rules about gardens design no longer apply. We now allow ourselves greater freedom to combine plants in original and creative ways. Contemporary designers and horticulturalists have deconstructed the rigidity associated with traditional color groupings and borders. Greater value is given to texture and shape more than flowers and colors. Native plants are included in the designs and perennials are mixed with trees, shrubs, annuals, accent plants and grasses.

It is apparent that when the author decided to introduce this topic to his readers, it was not his intention to design gardens, photograph them, and add some explanatory text. Instead, he consulted the best and the brightest in American horticulture and design, including the talented Dutch designer Piet Oudolf whose work represents a successful pushing of the boundaries of contemporary gardening.

The book focuses on innovative ensembles, created by these prominent designers, using a maximum of 6 plants. The author and his colleagues believe that by limiting plants to no more than this number, one can create bolder, more cohesive, designs. The resulting plant combinations are not intended to be self-contained gardens, only portions of them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful gift for friend who gardens
This book was a gift so I didn't read it in detail; but after flipping through it, I verified that it was a detailed book, with many very beautiful photos of plant combinations. Read more
Published 1 month ago by xmas mom
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent price, immed shipment
Brand new book, excellent price, immed shipment, A1 Seller ! Thank you very much!!
Published 1 month ago by MikeG
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version not good - tiny photos
Quite apart from the content, which is minimalist when describing the individual plants, the photos in the Kindle version are a mess. Read more
Published 1 month ago by West Coast Paddler
3.0 out of 5 stars More for the professional than the home gardener?
Great photos and interesting to read but not really useful for me. I'm guessing that this is really aimed at garden/landscape designers. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
as described, timely delivery
Published 5 months ago by ZinniaM
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great information
Published 6 months ago by beckie feuerborn
2.0 out of 5 stars good for down south
It is informative, however more for warmer climates 7 to 9 zones. I am in the Midwest in zone 5. Also on my Kindle Fire, I need a magnifying glass to look at the pictures. Read more
Published 6 months ago by marie s.
4.0 out of 5 stars Love this book!
Very helpful in my gardening business. Helps clients envision results without being overwhelming. Beautiful photos! I highly recommend this purchase.
Published 10 months ago by Susan Hickey
3.0 out of 5 stars Less is More?
The preview gave me little to draw from, but am thankful the book cost was low. This will be a book that will, unfortunately find little use as it appears at 1st glance rather... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Joseph T. Pometto
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok book
Perhaps I was looking for some other type of book. This did not meet my needs. However, the photos are outstanding.
Published 14 months ago by Eric Harper
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More About the Author

Scott Calhoun is the author of six books about plants, gardens, architecture and food. His first book, Yard Full of Sun, received the 2006 American Horticultural Society Book Award. His second title, Chasing Wildflowers, was awarded the Garden Writers Association 2008 Silver Book Award. Scott is a Contributing Editor to Horticulture magazine, writes a monthly garden column for Sunset magazine, and freelances for numerous print publications including, American Gardener, Fine Gardening, and Wildflower. Based in Tucson, Arizona, Scott lectures and designs gardens across the United States. Catch up with Scott at To book a speaking engagement visit


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