The Creative Shrub Garden by Andy McIndoe

The Creative Shrug Garden is a friendly, warm, informative guide to all types of shrubs and how to make the best use of them. Photograph heavy and broken down into useful sections, the book is a great gardening resource for all soil and weather conditions. The focus is on design and mood – creating a look or feel with the right selection of shrubs.

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The book breaks down as follows: Introduction to shrubs; Choosing the right shrubs; Creating planting effects; Moods (cool, calming, indulgent, mellow, glowing, reflective, warm, relaxing uplifting); Styles (coastal, cottage, country, exotic, mediterranean, Japanese, tropical, urban contemporary and traditional); plant directory; planting and caring for shrubs.

The book has photographs for nearly every plant in the directory and all the garden styles. If I had one request, it would be that there was more than just one ‘overview image’ for each of the moods and styles gardens. One photograph (and most tended to be close ups of certain plants together and not the garden as a whole) made it difficult to envision the big picture on nearly all the gardens.  As well, there aren’t plans for the garden ideas. Just one photograph of a general view and some close ups of some of the shrubs to choose for that type of garden.

Comprehensively, I greatly appreciated the sheer number of photographs of individual plants. In both the moods and styles sections, the key plants always had a photograph. That’s quite a luxury for most books of this type and the best I’ve seen in its class. As well, the book concept and layout are very much about design and putting things all together. So I also greatly appreciated how the book was laid out.

The text is useful and very informative. The author has a wonderful way of presenting the topics and was very friendly and encouraging. It was like having a next door neighbor professional gardener giving you advice as you do your own yard.

The reason for 4 instead of 5 stars is that nearly all the images are small and several to a page.  Great for the individual plant descriptions but frustrating when trying to envision the big picture of how that plant will be used in the grand scheme. The lack of plans rather exacerbated that issue. The garden designs are more of a fait accompli rather than how the garden looked upon first planting and waiting for things to grow in.  I would have loved to see images of a garden over a period of time or being set up/put together.

Reviewed from an ARC.

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