The Creative Shrub Garden: Eye-Catching Combinations for Year-Round Interest by Andy McIndoe

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Beautiful, long-lasting gardens can be created almost exclusively with well-chosen, artfully arranged shrubs: that is the premise of The Creative Shrub Garden, written by award-winning British designer Andy McIndoe. Aiming for year-round interest, his planting schemes rely not so much on flowers as on form and foliage for their varied effects.

This is good news for Northeast coastal gardeners. Compared to our spring gardens, our summer gardens tend to have more deadheaded plants than flowering ones; following the highlights of autumn, our winter landscapes look drab. Here, shrubs can do more than fill seasonal gaps. They can form four-season gardens, as McIndoe demonstrates in the main sections of the book, which include over a dozen styles to fit specific moods and locations.

Whether cool, mellow, or indulgent, coastal, cottage, or urban, each garden type begins with a foundational combination of three shrubs. A discussion on “expanding the scheme” follows and includes an assortment of additional complementary shrubs, along with a selection of bulbs and perennials. This approach, while quite commonsensical, also emphasizes aesthetics. How we perceive colors, shapes, and textures informs McIndoe’s selections and ideas for placement as much as terrain and climate.

(Timber Press, 2014)