The Well-Designed Mixed Garden is a design book with a difference. Written for gardeners who are passionate about plants of all kinds (hence the "mixed garden" of the title), it reflects decades of professional experience and artistic innovation. As with her book The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, master designer and plantswoman Tracy DiSabato-Aust provides not only inspiration but also organized information on design and connoisseur plants - all from original research dating back to her degree work in horticulture." "Though other books finish when planting is done, The Well-Designed Mixed Garden offers exhaustive research on the lifetime care needs of plants featured in the book. Extensive appendixes detail characteristics and maintenance requirements of hundreds of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, and bulbs, assuring that the "players" in a given scheme will reward gardeners with years of vigorous growth. These useful charts and lists contain all the information designers will need for every landscape purpose and could qualify as a book in themselves." The result is a nearly foolproof guide to every aspect of designing superior gardens with superior plants. With more than 250 color photos and illustrations, this book is as much a feast for the eyes as it will be a trusted reference for the library shelf.
I was also disappointed with this book. The author's other book is probably one of the most useful gardening books I've ever read, so I had high expectations for this one. I had basically two problems with it:
1) Despite being incredibly thick, there is very little actual content. The only section I found to be informative was the one on color theory. The rest was just too vague for me.
2) There are lots of pictures, but I did not personally find them appealing. I got the impression most of the photography was done by an amateur - very bad lighting, unattractive shots. Not the kind of thing that would inspire me to emulate any of the designs.
Maybe it's just a matter of personal taste. But I'd definitely take a close look at this book before spending $ on it, to see if it's what you want.
I have to say that I was disappointed in this book after loving The Well-tended Perennial Garden. My biggest complaint is actually the thinness of the content--I feel like far too much of your purchasing price went into the plant encyclopedia at the end, whose information pales (in my opinion) compared to what's available on davesgarden and in other books. If you're really into color theory, this would be a good book for you; but otherwise I'd suggest spending your hardcover book dollars elsewhere.
Page by page, reading this book was a great learning experience. The author's writing style is pleasant and easy to follow. Her sections on color theory and design elements were chock full of information and ideas. The last part of the book is a "plant encyclopedia" with all kinds of information about the needs and habits of a variety of plant materials. This section alone makes it worth the price when trying to figure out "what goes with what." This is a book I will keep for a very long time and I know I will refer to it again and again. The photography is also outstanding as are the diagrams of garden designs.
I loved this book. I found it well-written and easy to read, even the parts that promised to be boring. (An unfulfilled promise, I might add.) The designs and color theory are useful, and the book is chalk full of useful information and chart-like lists.
Though I got it at the library and renewed it as many times as they will allow, I will purchase it for myself.
Since we garden in the same zone, the plants she uses were particularly helpful to me in designing my own garden. Someone on a coastline or in the deep south may not find it as practical, but the information provided should be useful to any gardener.
I'm a relatively new gardener (3 years) and I thought this book was a bit "above" me at first. But, I stuck with it, got familiar with the charts, and now I CANNOT imagine planting anything without it! I have learned more through this book about garden design, color theory, texture, rhythm, etc. than I ever could have in 3 years of experience alone. Well worth the price for the serious perennial gardener!