I'm a Master Gardener without a good foundation of the principles of landscape design. In your opinions, what are the best 3 books I can get or top 3 things I can do to learn the basic principles of landscape design? I don't want landscapes I can "copy" to make a pretty garden because I adore unusual plants. I do, however, want to learn the best way to incorporate these unusual plants with my more common ones so that I have an attractive garden with year-long interest. Thanks for your help, as always!
To me there are more than 3 indispensable books:
One is a book that I bought 15 years ago that I've always found a handy reference for hardscape elements: "Time-Saver Standards for Landscape Architecture" by Charles W. Harris and Nicholas T. Dines, McGraw-Hill Inc. 1988. As I'm in the Philippines, I have "A Pictorial Cyclopedia of Philippine Ornamental Plants" by Domingo Madulid, which gives common and scientific names of plants plus pictures, descriptions, culture requirements and even provenance for each plant...I also have "Tropical Garden Plants" by William Warren and Luca Tettoni, Thames and Hudson Ltd. London 1997. You really need to invest in at least one book dealing with the plants you and your clients like, that grow in your climate and are available in the nurseries.
I also like flowering perennials, so I bought a used book, "Color Guide to Flowering Perennials" by Susin Leong and Tracy Loughlin, Bay Books 2003. I have Ortho Books "How to Design & Install Outdoor Lighting" by William Wilson et. al.
My last purchase is "1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die" by Rae Spencer-Jones, Quintessence Books 2007, which gives a pretty good overview of the history of garden design around the world.
What else...? I have books and magazines on Zen gardens, English Gardens, herbs, tall grasses and maybe as many books on architecture and interior design as I have of garden-related stuff.
If you are computer-literate, learn Google SketchUp, a 3D design software...simply the best. There's a free version of the software and most importantly, there are tutorials available on the web too. Other off-the-shelf garden design software I bought in the past before there SketchUp came along were just a waste of my time and money.
Hope that helps!
Thanks for the information. I will try the google SketchUp. I have been looking for a software, but didn't have any recommendations. I too buy a book occasionally. My favorite ones are Container Gardening by Tantum Press and Am Horticultural Society Plant Propogation from the library. I just can't come up with a landscape design I like. The front of my house is just straight across. It doesn't have all the different roof pitches like those homes of today. I have a cement pad that was added that I am getting prices on pergolas. Never saw one in the front of the house so guess I will be different. I have been collecting pictures and ideas that I like to plant around it. Just waiting on the carpenter.
Among all the design software I've tried, SketchUp was the easiest to learn. You can draw your house with exact measurements, then plan your garden around it, then walk through your design in 3D on the computer, before you even put your spade to the soil!
You may also want to check out this popular blog by a young woman, an avid DIY-er, showing how she transforms her old concrete block house into a mid-century modern masterpiece, without spending a lot. She's about to start on her landscaping. But I must warn you, as she does so herself, that she has a potty mouth; but she's got good aesthetic sense, at least in my opinion.