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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Is the word "garden" a noun or a verb? If much of the joy you take in your garden is that you get to play, experiment, fiddle, and tend to it, then this is the book for you.

Stephanie Cohen has put together a thoughtful design primer for gardeners who love to garden, and want a garden that flows from season to season with nonstop color and interest.

The book starts out with a straightforward chapter of advice that will get you fired up to create a gorgeous garden. She gives you an easy, but not simplistic, overview of what concepts to remember as you renovate your existing space or plan your new one.

Then she walks you through the different types of plants that will star in your year-round, nonstop garden. Chapters on trees, shrubs, perennials, tropicals, bulbs, annuals, edibles, and vines follow, and in each chapter she profiles some of the winning plants that you might select for your garden. Interspersed throughout the book are ten very pretty designs you can adapt to your own garden or use as a springboard for your own design.

The highlight of this book for me was Stephanie's down-to-earth and just plain funny writing about design and choosing plants. Some of my favorite bits:

"If a plant has "yuck" foliage right after flowering, as so many perennials do, it might be best to plant it in your compost pile." (Sing it, sister Stephanie!!)

"Impulsive plant purchases can lead to a garden that looks like it was designed by a blender." (Heh-heh - yep.)

"Do not fully commit to hardy plants that return year after year. By designating space for annuals, biennials, and tropicals, you give yourself some shopping trips to look forward to each gardening season." (I know a few beloved clients who will be delighted to hear that their gardening strategy is sanctioned by the Queen of Perennials herself!)

"By all means do not turn up your nose at the average Joes. The local garden society might find plants like impatiens to be a little too pedestrian, but if they work, who cares?"

This is the friendly, witty writing style Stephanie's known for.

Now, the caveat:

This is not a low-maintenance gardening book. This is an "I like to garden, I put my soul into my garden, I enjoy buying new plants and find the creative process of gardening fun and invigorating" style of gardening book.

To give you an idea of what I mean by this, Stephanie's "Recipe for Success" outlines the approximate percentages you might choose for your nonstop garden, which is:

30% trees and shrubs

30% perennials

20% annuals and tropicals

10% bulbs

5% vines

5% veggies and herbs

That means that no less than 20% of your garden, and probably more, will need re-choosing and re-planting every year, or at the very least some plants will need to be brought in and coddled through the winter if they're tropicals. And 30% of your garden will need some form of summer deadheading and winter pruning every year.

This means your garden will be H-O-T, with big tropical leaves and blooms, lush flowers, gorgeous foliage plants... Like the gardens you see in Fine Gardening Magazine... It also means your garden truly needs to be a labor of love and a joy for you to work in or else you're going to end up feeling guilty and exhausted at all it needs from you.

By now you know if you're the right kind of gardener for this book. Either you're shaking your head and muttering about toddlers and money and gotta-be-an-easier-way, or you're enthusiastically going, FINALLY!! I love to garden! I just need someone to show me how to put together all the gorgeous plants I buy into the garden I've been dreaming of.

The photos are gorgeous and creative, the designs are well-thought-out and easy to envision and understand, and Stephanie's humorous, no-nonsense approach will make you feel like a more experienced gardener has taken you by the hand and joined you in creating the garden you've always dreamed of.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2010
Over the past few years, several books have been published offering advice for creating beautiful and interesting gardens, in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of fuss. These manuals allow the harried and the multi-taskers to circumvent the fascinating garden journey of trial, error, and discovery in order to experience almost instant success in gardening. Gardening manuals, that are clear and easy to read and that are neither encyclopedic nor all-encompassing in scope, are helping to create unique horticultural experiences for busy people. The Nonstop Gardener is such a book. The authors make it possible to work with recommended plants to quickly create attractive all season gardens that are almost the equal of those developed by experienced gardeners through years of experimentation.

Some of my garden writer colleagues, who are traditional in their approach to gardening, are dismayed. They are disappointed that the new gardener will not experience the thrill of the hunt, the thrill of discovery and the fascination of watching a plant develop its personality. They insist that the essence of gardening will be lost and that a rich and rewarding hobby will become a hollow activity. I understand their concerns. However, I also understand the very real needs of the new gardener. Why should multi-tasking people, whose time is precious, not be able to create a beautiful garden without fuss and without burdensome background information? In a world that can given us frozen pizza that tastes like delivery, a successful instant garden should be accessible to those that need them.

Some of us choose to experience a rich quantity of life. Immersing ourselves in that style of living leaves little room to enjoy most journeys because we are in a rush to get to the destinations. This book is about one specific destination - a garden that it is beautiful and interesting all year long. Such a garden includes trees, shrubs, and perennials, "the main attractions'. These are followed by "the supporting cast" namely, bulbs, annuals, tropicals, edibles and vines. The authors round out their recommendations with "the finishing touches" which include ornamentation, containers, structures and seasonal interest.

The essence of this book is that a non stop garden is better because it requires less maintenance, provides continual beauty, allows more creativity, and encourages diversity. To further simplify the process, the authors include the names of no less than forty seven sites that sell plants suitable for such gardens. Newbie gardeners often become overwhelmed by all of the information that they need to process in order to garden successfully. Not any more; The Nonstop Garden is part of a collection of intelligent and creative garden manuals that strip away the mystique to reveal the beautiful.

Allan Becker reviews books for [...] and for <[...]>
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2010
If you want to know how to design a garden that looks good year round, I highly recommend The Nonstop Garden by Stephanie Cohen and Jennifer Benner. Those of you with yards will especially appreciate the book, as it includes 10 design plans to create different kinds of garden beds, be it a native garden or the feeling of a wooded retreat. But even though I don't have a yard of my own, I found plenty of information about plants and design ideas that I can use to create interest and beauty year round on my balcony.

The book is broken down into four major parts: nuts and bolts, the main attractions, the supporting cast, and finishing touches. The authors begin the nuts and bolts section by talking about what they think is so great about mixed borders. They were preaching to the converted as far as I was concerned, so I zipped through that part and dove right in to reading about their ideas for "design strategies that work." I found that chapter to be particularly useful and interesting, especially the graphic that depicts how to get the right balance of trees, perennials, annuals, bulbs, vines, and veggies.

In Cohen and Benner's interpretation of the ideal nonstop garden, trees, shrubs, and perennials are the main attractions that gardeners should design around. They dedicate two chapters to great looking plants that would be worthy of being a headlining attraction. Interspersed throughout are photos-of course-but also several garden plans that show just how to use these gorgeous plants to their best advantage. The design plans are not just for people with perfect garden situations either. For example, on page 86 they share a garden plan for a bed with soil that is on the soggy side and features a beautiful Magnolia tree.

I have to admit that my favorite part of the book comes next, the bulbs, annuals, edibles, and vines. I found so many of my favorite plants among their list of bulbs, and they have really great ideas for combining them with other plants. On page 110 there is a handy chart with suggestions for annuals and perennials that look great combined with various bulbs. I know that I will be referring to that part often, so I immediately stuck a post-it note to flag the page. Like the first chapters of the book, these chapters are also dotted with garden design plans to help you add style to your patio (`Some Like it Hot' on page 118) or interest to a hellstrip you may be guerilla gardening on (`Inferno Strip' on page 146).

The last part of the book is made up of ideas for finishing touches, things like garden ornaments, containers, trellises, and seasonal interest. I really liked the Adirondack chair featured on page 202 that is painted with large leaf prints. I think I might try something similar, it's such a fun, whimsical look. The container pictured on page 188 also provides great inspiration for combining ornamental and edible plants in the same pot.

All in all, this book was a very enjoyable and helpful read. The authors have a wonderful conversational style (I laughed out loud when I read their description of lilies: "[They] are like that colorful great aunt during the holidays") that makes you feel as if they are hanging out on your porch tossing back garden ideas for what to do with that one spot right over there...
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2013
This book will be of no help to anyone but the beginner gardener, in my mind. I was really looking forward to detailed and specific advice about how to plan a garden that provides year-round interest but this piece of fluff doesn't even come close to being helpful. Their advice can be summed up in two words: variety and diversity. Plant a variety (trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, bulbs, etc.) of different types and then put 3/5/7 of them in clumps according to height. What a joke - if you have done any gardening, you know that already. And by the way, you can find better garden plans online at BHG's site for free. The rest of the book (75%) contains plant suggestions and sometimes offers companion plant suggestions - nice, but not what you are led to believe you are getting. I live very remotely and have to order books online and it is moments like this that I wish I could have just flipped through it in the store. I am beyond irritated that I wasted money on this book.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2011
The Non-Stop Garden was a book I would recommend to gardeners who are just starting out. I found that I was already familiar with its concepts and plant choices. I also would have liked to see more native plants mentioned as excellent choices for plants, trees, and shrubs. It is my sincere wish that landscape designers would expand their horicultural horizons. I'm so tired of reading about the same plants in every garden book or magazine I pick up. It would also have been more helpful to have more design plans. The pictures in the book are beautiful, but a design helps you to see how a bed is structured and why it works.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Nonstop Garden is packed with all sorts of ideas and the pictures are lovely. Somehow the flowers and plants discussed in this book are exactly the ones I've been considering and wondering where and how to use them in my garden.

The authors advise that we "Garden Smarter, Not Harder", which works for me. I'm tired. I'm looking for practical ways to make my garden beautiful without making more work for myself. I was particularly interested in the many advantages of planting a variety of plants: perennials, annuals, herbs, tropicals, trees, and shrubs, all together rather than grouped by kind. They say that variety is better for purposes of diversity, creativity, less maintenance, and year-round interest. Then there's the advantage of developing a habitat for wildlife.

I know that I am enjoying a book when I grab my highlighter. This book is simple enough to be easy to understand and complete enough to teach me things I didn't even know I needed to know. I'm glad I bought it. Now I want to get back to it and dig out more ideas.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2013
I read the reviews claiming this is a very basic book on gardening, and yes,,,,yes it is
There are only SO many really intricate gardening plans that once could execute before it gives you and the nursery you work with a major headache
I HAVE grown perennials for 25 yrs, I HAVE gone complicated and gotten frustrated and tossed out plants , ( and normally those that came with a price tag that was on the high side)
One thing I learned in all my years of gardening on 3 country acres,,,,,is KEEP IT SIMPLE( fill in the blank here)
I have 4 heavy shade gardens that no longer have a single flower in them because 10 yrs ago I decided I liked the looks of the foliage better than the flowers and I think I did that before it became vogue to do just that. It was practical and it pleased my senses.
These gardens are simple, they work,,,,,,they are filled w/ many hostas, climbing hydrengas, ferns and other shade loving annuals ( coleus, and yearly bulbs) so they work for me , All survived a huge drought we had last summer, and are looking pretty darn good w, the heavy snow and spring rains this year
I have succulent gardens in my birdbath and outside sitting in flat pots on the deck, and have mixed lots of herbs in my perennial border ( just bc its easy to snip for dinner!) and gosh,,it smells SO good when passing it! I garden for all sensese not just to look, but to smell good too!
This year I dug up the entire front garden, had the wall re done and am doing almost ALL annuals fora full summer riot of color and its FUN!
I added cannas, orange trumpet ,dahlias and a few other things bc this is really hot hot sun ( my home faces south west)
Its fantastic the sea of color I created in a 5 ft wide by 25 ft long area
I like this book bc it shows anyone how easy it is to figure out things for a successful garden ( gardens in my case)
Who says simple is cannot be stunning?? Add the angel trumpets and the elephant ears and the garden speaks volumes to me,
So I want to say that this indeed is a simplistic way of looking at doing a garden the proportions are good, the ideas are very good, the plans alone are worth the price of the book
I just wish I had a book like this 25 yrs ago so I could have saved myself so many many expensive mistakes,,,,,,,but then again, a garden does teach you patience
Love the book would give this to any new homeowner or anyone attempting to design a wonderful garden for the first,,,,or the fifth time~
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2013
I do lots of gardening and have read many many gardening instruction manuals. I like that this book talks to all season gardening and tells how to keep a hand in all year round.

The Nonstop Garden's layout and organization is particularly easy to access. While I actually use my gardening books (and don't keep them out on display) The Nonstop Garden wouldn't be out of place on a coffee table. The photos are high quality and bring a whole lot of zing to the book's presentation.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2011
Love this book. Pictures are beautiful and plant selections are great. Sections are organized by plant type (trees, shrubs, perennials, etc.) so the sections also tend to go by height, which makes it easy designing a bed from back to front. I've since loaned this book to 2 friends who were just starting out or who needed to redo a bed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2010
The Nonstop Garden is a very useful guide to gardening in all four seasons. The photos are beautiful and the guides are very logical. I was able to use it immediately. It has a lot of info for both the beginner and the advanced gardener.
The designs are outstanding.

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