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Professional Planting Design

"This is a great reference book for planting design, which is an arena where so many of us are hugely challenged. Information in it is well written, engaging, useful, accessible, and original."
—Holly H. Shimizu, Executive Director, United States Botanic Garden

"A unique blend of classic planting-design principles and ecological plant-selection criteria."
—Scot Medbury, President, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

"After reading the book, you will be able to experiment with nature and use its myriad of facets to make your own original statement. You will be ready to take risks and design exciting and original gardens."
—From the Foreword by James A. van Sweden, Oehme, van Sweden & Associates

"Professional Planting Design is analytical and inspiring, tackling the subject matter in a unique fashion by examining aspects through the eyes of a designer."
—From the Foreword by Fergus Garrett, Great Dixter

A comprehensive guide to the "high art" of designing mixed bed plantings

When done successfully, mixed beds represent the pinnacle of planting design—a living work of art in which small trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, bulbs, tropicals, and groundcovers combine to create a true feeling of place. Professional Planting Design: An Architectural and Horticultural Approach for Creating Mixed Bed Plantings initiates you into the principles of planting design and helps you develop the ability to think about the planting design process, so that you can develop your own effective compositions that sustain multi-seasonal interest.

Richly illustrated with photographsand drawings, Professional Planting Design covers the basics as well as the advanced concepts of planting design including: selecting plant characteristics, types of mixed bed plantings, structuring and composing mixed beds, creating mixed palettes for seasonal variation, designing in elevation and plan view, and choosing plants. You'll find coverage of design, landscape architecture, and horticulture interwoven throughout the guide, along with detailed steps for developing mixed bed planting compositions at a variety of scales for projects on both residential and commercial sites.

Clear and concise yet thorough, this book will supplement your talent with the knowledge you need to create harmonious mixed plantings in the landscape that will provide continual interest throughout the seasons.

Product Details

Table of Contents

Foreword by James A. van Sweden vii Foreword by Fergus Garrett viii Introduction ix Planting Design: A Unique Design Profession xii Practicing the Art of Mixed Planting Design xiv 1 Mixed Planting Basics 1 Mixing and Matching 2 Evolution of a Planting Style 3 The Theory Behind Mixed Plantings: The Role of Dynamism and Diversity 7 Making the Most of the Mix 9 The Role of Plant Functionality in Design 10 Mixed Planting Bed Functions 10 Mixed Planting Bed Types 12 Cultural and Maintenance Considerations as Part of the Design Process 15 Moving on with the Planting Design Process 16 2 The Power of Succession 19 Planning for Succession 20 Components of the Mixed Planting 21 Permanent vs. Temporary Plantings 35 3 Applying Design Fundamentals to Planting Design 37 Elements of Composition 38 Using Color in the Landscape 50 The Language of Design 54 4 Structuring and Adorning the Mixed Planting Composition 69 Imposing a Planting Structure 70 Punctuating with Decorative Plants 73 Working with Plant Forms 75 Incorporating Leaf Characteristics 81 Using Foliage Color 89 Maintaining Seasonal Interest 94 5 Form Based Approach to Mixed Planting Design 101 Understanding Form Relationships 102 Blocking a Design Pattern 107 Creating Mass: Grouping and Arranging 108 Assembling the Abstract Composition 116 Evaluating the Composition 123 6 Designing in Plan View: Creating the Beds 125 Going Horizontal 126 Grouping Plants: Developing Masses 131 Calculating Bed Depth 138 Establishing the Bed Line 140 Developing a Design Theme 145 Using a Grid 161 Conclusion 173 7 Composing and Structuring a Mixed Bed 175 Layering as Part of the Planning Process 176 Locating the Plants 177 Identify Locations of Structure Plants 177 Add Theme Plants 184 Insert Accents or Focal Points 190 Infill or Filler Plantings 196 Understanding the Importance of Massing to the Planting Composition 197 Factoring in Maintenance 203 Conclusion 206 8 Specifying Plants by Their Characteristics 207 Specifying Characteristics 208 Planning for Succession 218 Creating a Memorable Impression 226 Keeping It Simple 234 9 Understanding the Planting Environment 237 Understanding Soils 238 Exposure to the Elements 241 Accounting for Growth Behavior 243 Giving Plants Room to Grow 246 Exploiting Plant Genetics 249 Conclusion 249 10 Completing the Process: Selecting the Plants 251 Bibliography 259 Index 261

About the Author

Scott C. Scarfone, ASLA, is a principal at Oasis Design Group, a landscape architecture, planning, and design firm he founded in historic Fells Point in Baltimore, Maryland. He is an instructor in the continuing education programs at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, The School of the Chicago Botanic Garden in Chicago, and Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. He frequently lectures around the country on various topics including garden design, planting design, and garden travel. Scott is a registered landscape architect and a certified professional horticulturist with a specialization in herbaceous perennials.


" is sure to become a classic for landscape designers and architects, and for avid amateur gardeners as well." ( GardenDesignOnline, April 2007)

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