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The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs Hardcover – Illustrated, January 1, 2003

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The Right-Size Flower Garden by Kerry Ann Mendez
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Editorial Reviews Review

Tracy DiSabato-Aust's Well-Designed Mixed Garden provides sound direction for plant lovers looking to free their garden from the doldrums and fashion a rich tapestry of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vines, grasses, and bulbs. Encyclopedic in scope yet unfailingly attentive to essential details, The Well-Designed Mixed Garden effectively summarizes an array of basic garden design considerations and fundamentals. There are particularly useful chapters on color theory and on drawing up a plan, with precise instructions on what size plants to purchase and how to space them. As with her highly regarded Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting & Pruning Techniques, DiSabato-Aust delves eagerly into plant maintenance, a topic too many garden writers overlook. Though many examples are from the author's own garden or other American Midwest locations, they're largely applicable to other plant hardiness zones. Of particular appeal are a nicely photographed section on attractive plant combinations and a series of handy appendixes for plant selection. Beginners may be overwhelmed by this book's wealth of information, but its comprehensiveness renders it all the more valuable for seasoned gardeners seeking greater practical know-how and a surer grasp of the art of gardening. --Jennifer Wyatt

From Booklist

In this eagerly awaited sequel to her best-seller, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden (1998), DiSabato-Aust brings her trademark exuberance, expertise, and efficiency to bear on frequently daunting elements of garden design, demystifying them with her direct approach and encouraging gardeners with her infectious enthusiasm. A patient instructor with a keen sense of the essential, DiSabato-Aust explores areas other authors often ignore, going in-depth on topics such as color, for example, to clarify the differences between "hue" and "value" and demonstrate how intensity of light can affect the way in which flowers are perceived. Examples abound: winning plant combinations are photographed, illustrated, and then deconstructed in an encyclopedic compilation of 27 sample designs that explains why the groupings work and how they can be achieved. DiSabato-Aust conscientiously provides the tools required to transform theory into reality as she walks readers through the actual process of putting plans on paper, spacing plants, and estimating supplies. Painstakingly researched and precisely organized comprehensive appendixes concisely chart cultural characteristics and design attributes in this admirably inspirational, abundantly informative, and absolutely indispensable guide to great garden design. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881925594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881925593
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 1.3 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #475,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Has earned international acclaim as one of America's most entertaining and knowledgeable garden writers and professional speakers. She has extensive experience in the United States, and abroad working for over 30 years in the industry, speaking for over 25 years and designing for over 20 years.

Her experience includes stints at Longwood Gardens in the U.S., The Montreal Botanical Garden in Canada, the Kalmthout Arboretum in Belgium, and Knightshayes Court in England. She earned a B.S. and M.S. in Horticulture from The Ohio State University.

Her first book The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, which has been referred to by many as 'the bible for perennial maintenance', has sold over 150,000 copies and has become Timber Press' best selling book in their 25 year history of publishing. Now available in a beautiful expanded edition.

Her second book The Well-Designed Mixed Garden, which has sold over 30,000 copies, brings her trademark exuberance, expertise, and efficiency to bear on frequently daunting elements of garden design demystifying them with her direct approach. Tracy is a gifted and award winning designer who combines artistic vision with practical horticultural strategies.

Tracy's followers now welcome her long awaited newest book (2009)'50 High Impact, Low Care Garden Plants: Tough but Beautiful Plants Anyone Can Grow which features easy care dynamic selections for our busy lives.

DiSabato-Aust is a frequent guest on national garden television and radio gardening shows. She is a vibrant speaker, and in great demand nationally and internationally, on the lecture circuit. Venues include New Zealand & Australia Landscape Design Conferences, England's Royal Botanic Garden-Kew, England's Royal Horticulture Society Garden- Wisley, The English Gardening School, The Oxford Botanic Garden The Smithsonian Institute, The Perennial Plant Association, numerous botanical gardens and professional association meetings.

Tracy has contributed articles or been featured in numerous national and international magazines, books, and newpapers. Magazines include: Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Garden Design, & Gardens Illustrated (London, England. The New York Times, The Daily Telegraph in London, England, and The National Post, Toronto Canada have all published articles on Tracy. She has appeared on several gardening television shows including, Way to Grow & Smart Gardening. She is a frequent guest on Martha Stewart Radio.When Tracy is not busy with horticulture adventures she is training and racing as an 'All American' at the national and world's level in triathlons and duathlons.
Please vist my website for fun and informative articles, blogs, books, photos on gardening and triathlons.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Z. German on February 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When I started gardening Tracy DiSabato-Aust's first book, the Well Tended Perennial Garden was one of the first I purchased. Today with mud-stained, well-creased pages, it is still one of my favorite and primary reference books. Her second book, written with the same practical and enthusiastic advice, is useful to all gardeners, from beginner to advanced. DiSabato-Aust clearly believes anyone, with any yard, can have a beautiful garden. This book is less reference than the first one, but valuable in its own right. As a scientist, I didn't exactly agree with her descriptions of color, but putting aside my background, I found the information on color design to explain why some parts of my garden just didn't look quite right. The first part is "theory", but amply illustrated and diagrammed. The second part, her example gardens, might not translate immediately into your (or my) yard, but they are useful teaching tools. Finally, the last third of the book is are great encyclopedic appendices about different kinds of plants, where to put them and how they fit into the overall design of the garden.
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94 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on April 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Tracy DiSabato-Aust has put a lot of herself into her complex book, THE WELL-DESIGNED GARDEN. This topic (design not Tracy) certainly needs addressing. In lieu of hiring a garden designer which most new home owners cannot afford to do, new gardeners must rely on friends as well as multiple books and articles to address garden questions. Wouldn't it be nice to find a single source that covers everything-trees, shrubs, perennial identification and planting and growing specifics, as well as design issues? I doubt this book will satisfy that need. The gardening newcomer or even somewhat seasoned gardeners will probably find this book overwhelming in its detail while remaining unhelpful in addressing specific needs.

As the title suggests, DiSabato includes several garden design layouts, but these few designs are limited to a townhouse garden, a few 'house' patio/garden designs and the design for what appears to be large "estate", which makes her book little more than a sample portfolio of her own jobs which she probably had prepared for potential customers, and which she decided to transform into a `book'. This is not a well researched document that investigates assembles, and analyzes what a variety of garden designers have been or are doing. Rather than a menu of suggestions about designing, this book begs the question, What does she mean by"well-designed"? Does it mean done by Tracy? For example, if you seek information about building a small or an "intimate" garden, or dividing a larger area into many smaller gardens, you would do better to use Colston Burrell's INTIMATE GARDENS which includes a summary of examples pertaining to small garden areas (and is a good deal less expensive).
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63 of 72 people found the following review helpful By profile deleted on March 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Overall I found this to be a good book that just kept coming up a bit short.
This is one of those books where the information is there, but the format is lacking.
Poor printing of lackluster photographs doesn't help this guide. If you are looking for different varieties of plants, they are here, but you can get the same information reading garden catalogs in January.
I liked the index of plants, however, splitting the common names into a separate index did not make sense to me. Reading the book I had to have on finger in the scientific nomenclature and one marking the common name list as well. I was running out of fingers!
What I did like was the suggested combinations of plants although I thought the somewhat sophisticated color combinations were not explained well enough to allow for experimentation outside the plants stated for many readers.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Maria Campbell on April 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finally a book for a beginner that makes sense. I've read the first chapter and said, "Aha!!" and "Oh that's what that means! at least twice. I believe that even as I become a more advanced gardener, I will still refer to this book often. The plants are cross-referenced lots of different ways so that if you want a plant that yellow, you can look it up. If you want a plant that easy to care for, you can look that up too. If you know the Latin name, you can look up the common name for most plants. There is alot of information about color theory in a garden. The author explains everything in easy to understand terms with a sense of humor.
There is one thing that I'd like to suggest. The author spends alot of time referring to plants by their latin names especially in the photos. I've seen a plant in a photo that just knocked me out and I wanted to get one. It's an extra step to have to stop, mark your place, and look it up in the index to find out what it's called in the real world. It would be better to call them by their common names under the photos.
This is very small complaint in a book that is excellent!! I spent part of my plant money for this year on this book and I believe that I have spent my money well. Buy this Book!!!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn B. Odneal on April 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am designing a garden for my campus and continue to work on my home landscape. The Well-Designed Mixed Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust answers my questions like it knows what I am thinking. I was wondering about garden scale in relation to buildings, among other things, and now have a good idea. I find a treasure trove of information for my consideration and use in this book (as well as in the Well-Tended Perennial Garden). The discussion of color is intense and wonderful. The reference areas and examples are invaluable. The writing style is friendly and unstuffy. The information is inspired and important. I am grateful for this book both for my job and my home landscape. It has been commuting with me every day for the past 2 weeks.
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