Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mixing and Matching

Ahh.. sitting down with some gardening books on a cozy winter's evening..

A online Gardening Book Review is going on over at the blog Roses and Other Joys, and I decided to join in the fun this month.  I wanted to review a new book that I got, but sadly have not finished it!  The problem is, there is so much I want to read about, I am usually flipping through/reading several gardening books, mixing and matching to suit my mood.  

We won't even talk about the magazines... 

So I am going to review one of the earliest gardening books I got a few years ago - one that I have actually finished reading!  It is quite a fun book (interactive even!), and suits the mood of my garden reading style quite well:

The Mix and Match Garden Color Guide to Annuals and Perennials (whew, that's a name!) is by Graham Strong and Alan Toogood and has a lot of great advice about combining plants in the garden.  It talks a lot about all the basics, combining colors, shapes, and plant textures for great combinations of plantings.  It talks about pattern, repetition, and scale when planting flower beds.  Then comes the good part - it shows some really great combinations of plants and gives several great projects to do as well as several small garden designs, all with fabulous pictures.

The picture above is one of my favorite in the book, as it started my love affair with ranunculuses (also called Persian buttercup).  I had never seen a ranunculus before reading this book, and after seeing this picture I just had to get some the next spring.

My yellow ranunculuses
I actually tried to find some double daisies to go with them, just like the combination featured in the book, but was unable to find any in the garden stores at that time, sadly. 

Ah, but we're not done yet!
After the fabulous small garden designs and little plant combining projects comes the fun, interactive part of the book...

Photo flip cards!!
I love to flip through pictures in gardening books so this is a perfect book for me.

There are 240 photo flip cards that help the reader see how different plants would look grouped together.  There are four cards/plants per page.  The taller plants are in the top row, the middle sized plants are in the middle two rows, and the short plants are in the bottom flip cards.  Thus you can get a better feel for how the plants would look in combination in the garden.  The cards are mostly made up of annuals and perennials, but there is also a small section that includes shrubs.

Would this combination look nice?
On the other side of the page (on the back of the previous flip cards), it considerately gives all the planting information for that species. 

Honestly, it's just fun to play with the cards and see what combinations one can come up with!

 Now if I can just stop flipping through different books and finish one for my next garden book review...


  1. I love this review and am going to see if I can but this book (Amazon I hope?). I do the same ... flipping through and reading several gardening books, never really finishing any of them, so that I can delight in discovering something new it each book every time I page through them.
    This book looks really great and just the sort of thing that will amuse me for hours. I need to find it :). Thanks for a really great book review!

  2. A GREAT book for a WInter afternoon! Had not seen this one before!

  3. Well, what a great idea for a book! I was thinking that this would probably be a great read, but then you got to the flip cards!!! And I was immediately sold! What a fun toy for a gardener! haha I bet it could keep me amused for hours on end! I do the same thing - read several books at once. If one holds my attention for long, I know it's a great book! Thanks for joining in!

  4. I have been searching for a book like this. Now that I have the bones of the garden completed and have begun combinations and color displays, this book will help me to improve on that. Thanks!

  5. That does sound like a fun book. I love te idea of being able to try put combos before I actually put them in my garden.

  6. You know, that book has a really great idea with the flip cards. That would be so fun to play with.

    I love gardening books, and there is a pile of gardening magazines beside my bed. But I find that at this time I am totally focused on the new house. It's cold here, and there won't be any gardening at all until late March. So don't laugh, my plans are indoor stuff until March, and then outdoor stuff until it gets too hot. Best laid plans and all that....

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  7. I love rununculus, but they're not hardy here. I usually be a bunch or two at Trader Joe's when they're in season. Good luck planting them this year.

    I think you might have sold everyone on this book with the flip cards!

  8. OK, Indie. So now I must have this garden color guide! It looks to be hours of fun. My personal favorite colors to combine are purple and yellow.

    Thank you for introducing me to ranunculus, too - I will be on the lookout for that one!

  9. What a great book! It appeals to my practical sense :-) I have also grown ranunculus before, they were gorgeous but didn’t come again the next year. Perhaps it was a bit too cold to expect them to survive the winter.

  10. How clever for someone to think of using flip charts! I'm a very visual person so this book would be perfect for me. I love ranunculus and was able to grow them years ago. (I would always have to look for references to see if the claws of those little bulbs should be planted up or down...they should be planted down!) For some reason they stopped coming up, but I believe it was probably the snails eating the emerging growth. Thanks for sharing this very practical book!

  11. Okay, that flip card business at the back of the book just sealed the deal for me. I might have to splurge and get this one!

    I also love Ranunculus. Flowers were the only thing I spent any money on for my wedding, and Ranunculus were everywhere, with Lisianthus, Sweet Peas, and some other early spring beauties.

    Another great book about different combinations is "Perennial Combinations" by C. Colston Burnell. Combos for shade, sun, dry, moist, rocky, clay...every condition that's out there. It inspired all kinds of ideas for me and put blue Sea Holly at the top of my list this year!

  12. Oh how fun! I like the idea of the flip cards that you can mix and match. Great book rec!

  13. The book is available on Amazon, just click on the title and it has a link.

    Ranunculus flowers are so pretty and come in a variety of colors. This year I am attempting to grown them from bulbs (or tubers). Hopefully they'll come up!

  14. I am so bad at coordinating colors in my garden. I think I need this book. Great review!


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