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Designing with Conifers: The Best Choices for Year-Round Interest in Your Garden [Hardcover] Unknown Binding – 2011


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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Timber Press (2011)
  • ASIN: B00846VBVY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

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See all 10 customer reviews
I feel this book will be helpful with information so I can make informed decisions on my conifer choices.
FL
Perennials and annuals in juxtaposition with conifers create a great vibrancy that neither of the former plant groups can do on their own.
Eva Monheim
These interesting and helpful bits of information set this book apart from typical, encyclopedic books on conifers.
Marilyn Daly

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn Daly on September 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Richard Bitner's Designing With Conifers changes our way of thinking about conifers. He moves conifers away from the stereotypical, overgrown and oversized, mulch and meatball foundation plantings and plants them creatively into our gardens. Bitner emphasizes that the benefits of gardening with conifers are that they "form a backbone" and provide a "strong architectural framework" that unifies our gardens throughout all seasons. Conifers are long-lived and change only slowly over time. Conifers add structure and provide interest and continuity to our winter gardens as the herbaceous perennials and annuals slip out of focus. "Conifers give a sense of permanence." Conifers are versatile. Bitner assures us, "Whatever landscape situation or challenge exists, there is an appropriate conifer to be had for that site."

Once Bitner convinces us in his introduction of the versatility and advantages of growing conifers as "garden plants", the next three chapters help us "make better choices when selecting conifers for our landscapes or integrating them into our mixed borders." Characteristics to consider are shape, color, and conifers for specific sites and conditions. Bitner dedicates a chapter to each of these then details each with stunning photographs. He gives abundant examples of available cultivars followed by a brief physical description and desired traits of each, all organized alphabetically according to genus and specific epithet.

Bitner's descriptions of the benefits offered by using conifers in our gardens are informative from a design perspective and they make the gardener think more deeply about the effect we might want to achieve as well as the emotional expression we might want to evoke in our gardens.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Curren VINE VOICE on April 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very well made book; cloth hard back with nice glossy pages and a plethora of color photos. The photographs are of very high resolution. To me this is a book on conifer design principles. Three chapters consist of shape, color and site conditions cover the principles; the fourth chapter consists of a completed conifer garden with a design analysis. Then at the end of the book is of course is a very informative appendix. This book is a very good book to have as a reference in your landscape/plant library and it is very inspiring. However, there are annoyances. While the photos are superior, none of them are referenced to the texts. To add insult to injury, some plant descriptions in the text say (see photo) and none them are referenced to the photos on the page. It would have been nice to have all the photos keyed and referenced to the text. Even if the conifer list descriptions were referenced there are not enough photographs to match up to the lists. My advice is to be on your computer and look them up one at time which in my opinion defeats the purpose of owning this book. Another problem I have with this book is that there is very little mention of regions of recommended plantings. A lot more research needs to be accomplished before one can fully utilize this book for a conifer garden.

There were two great pieces of advice that I feel needs mentioned. The author advises against foundation plantings. His reasoning being, place your plants where you can see them...from within your house. My reasoning is from a security perspective. Foundation plantings make a great hiding place for criminals or vandals not to mention terrorists. The most interesting piece of advice that helped me was that conifer gardens should be designed with winter in mind.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Eva Monheim on August 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Richard Bitner's newest book, Designing with Conifers is replete with information. He addresses conifer shape and color, and their importance in the landscape in relationship to other plants. So few people use conifers to their fullest potential and now Bitner helps to resolve this design problem. Not only do the conifers take main stage, they create the drama that most gardens need to be successful. Perennials and annuals in juxtaposition with conifers create a great vibrancy that neither of the former plant groups can do on their own.
Bitner also creates a wonderful case study that helps the reader through the process of selection and placement of conifers in the garden. The clever use of color and black and white photography provides a wonderful educational tool for anyone up for designing their own garden or for use by professionals to enhance their client's visual experience.
I also enjoyed reading Bitner's special sections on coping with deer - certainly a hot topic for many regions in the U.S. Another topic that Bitner broaches is German Grave Plantings. Reading through this chapter made me rethink how we create and - plant or not plant - our cemeteries here in the US.
There is certainly a wide range of topics in Bitner's book, making it a must read for any gardener, professional or green enthusiast.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By annie designer on January 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Those of us who are gardeners in the Pacific Northwest are fortunate to have wonderful forests of conifers nearby in which to study how conifers are arranged in nature. The ability to translate that "natural" conifer look from the source forest into a pleasing conifer garden within a residential setting, takes knowledge and experience with the immense array of conifer species available today for garden designers and homeowners alike.

Richard Bitner has done a great job of creating a readable volume that brings into one resource so many aspects of creating the modern landscape with the use of conifers for year-round interest. I was fortunate to be one of the many garden designers whose gardens he visited while researching his book more than 2 years ago.

This book is written not only for garden designers or other professionals of the landscape field, but for all who love gardening and want to improve their own abilities in the use of conifers. The introduction does a great job of over-viewing what will be tackled in the book. I like how he deals with inappropriate uses of conifers such as placing them too close to a home, giving conifers a bad rap which often results in expensive removals within 10 years of planting them. There are specific details on soil requirements, intermixing conifers within beds and borders, and utilizing the wide range of conifer needle colors to complement your garden design.

As a designer I find particularly useful the chapters on conifer shape, plus the extensive lists of species and cultivars which meet these shape requirements. When designing with conifers it's most important to know the 10 year estimated height and width variables of a specific plant and many of these are included here.
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