Bookshelf: Garden Design:

Designing Borders for Sun and Shade
Design Tips for Creating a Beautiful Mixed Border
Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) announces the release of the newest All-Region Guide, Designing Borders for Sun and Shade. A boon for even the most artistically challenged, this information-packed handbook shows how to design dazzling mixed borders that include beautiful shrubs, grasses, bulbs, and annuals—along with herbaceous perennials—to create inspired gardens. From planning and planting to garden maintenance, the book takes readers through the process of creating the border of their dreams step by step. A series of line drawings illustrates how to combine shrubs with perennials, annuals, grasses, and bulbs. The guide’s plant encyclopedia features beautiful plants by group to make selection easy. Lush photographs throughout fuel readers’ imagination with dynamic border combinations as well as portraits of the featured plants.

Author Bob Hyland, a seasoned designer and nurseryman and the former vice-president of horticulture at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, who has gardened on both coasts and in between, describes how you can create a gorgeous border in sun or shade and offers design styles and plant suggestions suited to North America’s many diverse regions and climates.

The art and practice of creating dynamic, colorful, four-season borders planted with a mixture of perennials, shrubs, ornamental grasses, annuals, and bulbs has come of age in America. Plant breeders continue to expand and diversify the palette of exceptional flowering and foliage shrubs, perennials, grasses, and long-blooming annuals. With new and choice sun- and shade-loving plants being introduced every year, there is a growing wealth and diversity of ornamental plants to combine in mixed borders. Designing Borders for Sun and Shade simplifies the process of creating the new American mixed border and shows how gardeners in every region can tailor the style and plant choices for an ecologically appropriate border.

Packed with all the information and inspiration you’ll need to create gorgeous, visually stunning borders, Designing Borders for Sun and Shade is a one-stop guide to selecting and preparing a site, planning a color palette, choosing the right plants and installing them, putting on the finishing touches, and caring for plants throughout the year.

The book features:

· Beautiful mixed border designs for every region

· An easy ten-step guide to designing a spectacular mixed border that’s easy to maintain

· A comprehensive plant encyclopedia showcasing some 120 sensational plants, divided into sun lovers and shade lovers for easy reference

· Hands-on tips for installing a new border

Below are some guidelines to use when designing a mixed border, excerpted from Designing Borders for Sun and Shade:

Design Tips for Creating a Mixed Border

·Right plant, right place!

Use plants that like the growing conditions in your garden. Examine sun and shade patterns as well as the soil’s composition, moisture, and pH, then focus on plants that thrive in those conditions.

·Be environmentally in tune.

Consider plants that are native or well adapted to your region and that don’t require lots of intervention or extraordinary energy to grow. Look to local plant communities for cues and models on how to structure your border design. Consider the regional characteristics of your border site: Is it woodland edge, chaparral hillside, rocky slope, open prairie, marsh, desert basin, or rainforest? The overall appearance of local natural areas and common plant traits can help steer your choices and define “the look” of your mixed border. Many plants that are native to your region make wonderful garden plants, and oftentimes cultivated varieties and forms have been selected or bred to increase the diversity of flower, foliage, and fruit colors and forms.

·Capitalize on seasonality.

By design, mixed borders should ride the four seasons with exceptional color, foliage, fruits, and structure, whether you garden in the warmer regions of the Deep South or in the coldest northern climates.

·Avoid a hodgepodge of one-of-a-kind plants.

Group plants in multiples of threes, fives, and sevens (a prime element of Zen gardens that works well in mixed borders too).

·Balance spontaneity and control.

Create moments of harmony and tension in your design with colors, textures, shapes, and sizes. One method is to let most plants grow in their natural forms while pruning or shearing a few to create contrast.

·Choreograph movement and rhythm.

Choose plants that dance in the wind or hum and reverberate with pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies. The placement of plant groups in repeating colors and forms can also create visual rhythm. To move the viewer’s eye through the border, Hyland often repeats upright conifers and sheared evergreens, billowing grasses, red- or yellow-twigged dogwoods (Cornus), and colorful drifts of phlox, yarrows (Achillea), catmints (Nepeta), astilbes, euphorbias, and salvias.

·Use light to advantage.

Integrate plants whose flower color and foliage reflect or absorb sunlight to create depth, shadow play, and color intensity in the border from first morning to early evening.

·Create focal points that capture the eye, ear, and nose.

A beautiful, well-sited specimen shrub, yucca, or ornamental grass with strong form and structure can command initial attention and then lead the eye to other attractions. Dramatic foliage, a huge drift of color, plants that rustle and whisper in the wind, enticing fragrances, and man-made garden structures and ornaments also add points of focus in the border.

For more information on these tips, plus more hands-on border design wisdom, consult Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s All-Region Guide, Designing Borders for Sun and Shade.

New York Times Book Review called BBG’s handbook series a “brilliant collection of little gardening handbooks...Each one takes a small bite of subject matter and chews it thoroughly...the mix of common sense, practical advice and, on occasion, pointed debunking...makes these slender volumes do the work of books twice their size and three times their price. And what the handbooks ... lack in acreage they make up for in authority.”

Ordering Information

Designing Borders for Sun and Shade (ISBN 1-889538-71-X) is available at a discount direct from Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s online store at, or by calling 718-623-7286. It is also available in bookstores and at garden centers for $9.95 in the U.S./$13.95 in Canada. For wholesale ordering information, call Sterling Publishing Co. at 800-367-9692 or visit its website at To receive a free brochure of current and past handbook titles, call 718-623-7241.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden handbooks have been published continuously since 1945. They are the only series of popular gardening books published by a botanic garden in North America. Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s All-Region Guides include specific information for gardeners across the U.S. and Canada.

Founded in 1910, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) is an independent nonprofit institution committed to education, research, and the display of horticulture. BBG serves communities in New York City and internationally through its world-class gardens, extensive research collections, and numerous educational and community programs. Situated on 52 acres in the heart of Brooklyn, the Garden is home to over 10,000 types of plants and hosts more than 700,000 visitors annually.

Author : Bob Hyland
ISBN : 188953871X
Publisher : Sterling Publishing Co
Sugg. Retail Price : $13.95
Available in Softcover

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