The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations

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9781552096239: The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations
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All gardeners have favorite plants, but they often get stumped when it comes to knowing which plants to put beside those favorites. Confidence in which combinations work can mean the difference between a mediocre garden and one that sings. The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations is the perfect tool to help gardeners create a stunning garden.

This inspiring planting guide features: - More than 4,000 combinations for beautiful and successful plantings - Over 1,000 plant descriptions with full color photographs and cultivation needs - Extensive information on suggested combinations and complementary plants, all fully cross-referenced - At-a-glance symbols - How to assess a site, choose plants and plant borders - How to combine form, color, texture, size and foliage - How to combine plants according to location, soil, climate and seasons

With authoritative and imaginative text, superb photographs and hundreds of planting combinations, The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations is an exciting sourcebook for gardeners of all experience levels.

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About the Author:

Tony Lord is an author, photographer and horticultural consultant. His books include Designing with Roses and Best Borders, winner of the 1994 Garden Writers' Guild "Best General Gardening Book" Award. He edits the Royal Horticultural Society's Plant Finder, and lectures widely. Tony Lord is also a Gardens Advisor to Britain's National Trust.

Andrew Lawson is a leading garden photographer contributing to magazines such as Gardens Illustrated and House and Garden. He has been honored twice by the Garden Writers' Guild, winning an award in 1996 for his book The Gardener's Book of Colour, and was named Garden Photographer of The Year in 1999.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Excerpted from the Section "Shrubs and Small Trees" are the introduction and sample entries. Each entry is accompanied by a full color photograph of the plant.

In most garden plantings a proportion of shrubs and a small selection of trees are essential to provide height, bulk, structure and, with the inclusion of some evergreens, year-round interest.

There is a wide choice of shrubs, varying from low ground-covering potentillas to towering abutilons, from fine-textured genistas to giant-leaved rhododendrons, from those shrubs with fleeting flowers such as amelanchiers to those that are non-stop performers such as hydrangeas, their dried flower heads persisting through the winter months. Some shrubs are deciduous, perhaps with colorful autumn foliage, others are evergreen.

The boundary between shrubs and small trees is a blurred one. Pittosporums, lilacs, philadelphus, and many others start their life as shrubs and if pruned to a single stem, can eventually make picturesque small trees. Trees display all the attributes of shrubs, but higher above ground level, often on trunks that have their own merits of elegant outline or attractive bark.

Making a selection

Trees and shrubs contribute to both the structure and the decoration of the garden, and it is important to bear these two aspects in mind when selecting and arranging them. In most situations, it is best to avoid thinking in terms of the "shrub border" and to plan instead to use trees and shrubs to enhance the whole garden. Selecting only those species that will grow well in the particular soil and situation will ensure that they thrive with minimum effort and will also create a strong sense of unity in the garden.

Small trees and the taller shrubs can be used to create height and as focal points. Birches with their pale trunks, lilacs with their spring blossom, or the very elegant paperbark maple, in groups or as single specimens, will draw the eye, frame views, and create a canopy to capture views of the sky. In large enough groups -- even a well-placed trio in a small garden -- the atmosphere of a wood or wild garden can be created: viewed from the rest of the garden, the trees form attractive masses, while under their canopy is a scene of vertical trunks and cool green shade with a rich woodland ground flora.

Once the high points have been decided on, the major shrubs can be distributed to form bold accents at a lower level: witch hazels for their spidery winter flowers, magnolias and rhododendrons for their blooms in spring and early summer, along with bright green-yellow or gold-leaved specimens such as euphorbias and Philadelphus coronarius 'Aureus'. Hydrangeas are ideal for autumn interest. Mahonias and many of the conifers are good for texture and greenery all year round, playing an especially important role in maintaining structure and interest through the winter. The shrubs at this level should not be crowded together to grow into shapeless masses but, instead, are best placed where they will display themselves most effectively: those with autumn color where the sun will shine through them; those with bright winter stems where the low winter light falls; fragrant plants near enough to the edge of the planting to be smelled and in sheltered situations so the scent will be concentrated.

When the star cast of trees and specimen shrubs has been assembled, attention can be turned to the chorus, the less dramatic but no less important plants that will enclose and shelter the garden, guide people through it, subdivide larger plots into smaller and more comfortable spaces, and conceal any undesirable views. For these purposes there is a great army of well-behaved but less exciting (and usually much less expensive) shrubs.

Finally, having established the structure of the garden with shrubs growing from waist height (where they will obstruct physical movement) to eye level and above (as visual barriers), attention can be turned to the ground plane. Here low plants can be woven together: lavenders, cistus, and rosemaries do well on dry soils, while the heathers, leucothoes, smaller rhododendrons, and many others are ideal for moist, acid situations. Knee-high shrubs will cover the ground to reduce the necessity for weeding; they will also soften the transition between lawns and paving and fences, walls, and trees, and will create their own tapestry of foliage, flowers, and form.

Designing shrub borders

Where a shrub border is what is required, it should not be thought of as a form of herbaceous border -- a series of more-or-less equally sized blocks or drifts with a different plant in each. While occasionally helpful in a herbaceous border, in a shrub border this approach can be disastrous because the basic building unit, the shrub, is much larger and usually less colorful than the individual herbaceous plant. Therefore, each shrub group will be too large to relate effectively to its neighbors. What is needed in shrub planting is much greater variation in grouping, from individual specimen plants to substantial masses of ten, twenty, or more lower ground covers. The outlines of the larger groups should be irregular, like pieces in a jigsaw, so that they are linked together more firmly. The spacing between specimens in a group should also be varied, unless formality is intended. Lessons can be learned from natural groupings of trees, rocks, or even animals in a field, and it is worth spending time playing with circles on paper to achieve the right effect.

Finishing touches and after-care

Woody plants usually start off much too small for their situation but then grow inexorably, often eventually becoming much too large. Thinness in the early stages can be compensated for by interplanting the permanent selection with short-lived and quick-growing shrubs (brooms and lavateras, for example), herbaceous perennials, or annuals. Care must be taken to avoid smothering the long-term plants with their temporary companions, but this type of planting is much better than crowding together the permanent plants for instant effect, and paying the penalties of overcrowding forever after.

In fact, useful though trees and shrubs are in a garden, it is neither necessary nor desirable to grow them to the exclusion of other plants. Spring bulbs provide an intensity of color and freshness of new life unrivaled by any shrub, and they will clothe the ground beneath deciduous shrubs and trees with an early and beautiful carpet. Lilies will push through the lower shrubs to flower in late summer. Herbaceous plants extend the flowering season and break the monotony of an over-reliance on shrubs. Stout clumps of peonies, arching sheaves of daylilies, and tall branching heads of Japanese anemones will all create a greater sense of seasonal change and welcome lightness among the woody permanence of the shrubs. For an even lighter effect, proportions can be shifted from a mainly shrubby border, relieved by occasional marginal groups of other plants, to a thoroughly "mixed" border in which shrubs, herbaceous plants, annuals, bulbs, and climbers are assembled in a balanced community.

Once the permanent shrubs and trees have reached the desired size, it may be necessary to restrict their growth to prevent the garden deteriorating into a tangle of the most aggressive species. If time is available, rule-book pruning can be adopted. This is an art in itself and very satisfying. On a larger scale it is often simpler to prune plants periodically, cutting one in five -- or perhaps one group in five -- to ground level and allowing them to regrow.

 

Abelia x grandiflora 'Francis Mason'

Most often grown as a foliage plant, this vigorous semi-evergreen shrub has bright gold-edged leaves, which overwhelm its pale blush-pink flowers and reddish bronze stems, calyces, and young shoots. It contrasts well with blue flowers and glaucous foliage, but it is most effective with warm and hot colors, gold-vari

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