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The Garden Design Primer

The Garden Design Primer
Barbara Ashmun
Short Hills, N.J.: Burford Books
Publication Date: 

paper, 226 p., $18.95

Primer is the key word here, for this book makes no pretension to being anything more than an introduction to a complex subject. Yet it is comprehensive enough to be a valuable reference guide for most home gardeners, well-organized and well-written by an experienced garden designer who obviously knows her subject. While the author uses some color photos and black-and-white drawings to illustrate her points, this is not a typical garden book full of pretty pictures. Her text tells the story, with all the basic information one needs to know as a budding designer. The principles of design, the importance of style, how to use color, how to draw up a plan are all covered in these pages. In addition, there are chapters on the use of trees and shrubs, hardscapes in the garden and how to treat beds, borders and entry gardens, along with the problems of designing gardens for the sun or shade or dry or moist soils. The final chapter offers a number of thumbnail sketches for specific types of gardens, such as a low-maintenance area, an enclosed meditation garden, an evening fragrance garden and even a garden for hummingbirds. The author is generous with suggestions of plants to use in every type of garden.

— Jim Kemper