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Garden Book Review: "The Nonstop Garden"

About "The Nonstop Garden"

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The Nonstop Garden

If you're intimidated by the idea of designing and planting a garden, this book aims to help you get over that fear and go for it. According to the authors, a "nonstop garden" is one that combines trees, shrubs, bulbs, perennials, annuals, and edibles that looks good all year long. It is low-maintenance, and never boring.

Sounds good, right? Read on for more about The Nonstop Garden.

Review: "The Nonstop Garden"

Authors Stephanie Cohen and Jennifer Benner make some big promises in this book. They say that they can show us how to plant a garden that is beautiful year-round, low-maintenance, and ecologically diverse, and that you can accomplish a garden like this even if you are a novice. Happily, this book lives up to its claims. It is a straight-forward, encouraging, inspiring guide to creating a beautiful garden. They encourage the reader to build a garden around trees, shrubs, perennials and structures that will keep the garden interesting all year. And, if you need a little extra hand-holding (or want to take the guess-work out of designing a garden), the authors have included ten pre-planned gardens, complete with drawings and planting lists. What I love about plans like these is that even if you decide that the shape or size of the bed is not for you, the designers have given you an idea of which plants work together well, and you can then take that knowledge and build your garden around it.

The ten preplanned gardens include a winter wonderland garden, sunny wildlife garden, shade garden, a garden design for moist areas, and a scented garden (among others.) Interspersed throughout the book are plenty of sidebars, plant lists, and gorgeous, full-color photos. The book is full of information:

  • The benefits of "nonstop gardening"
  • Easy design strategies
  • Trees and shrubs
  • Perennials
  • Bulbs
  • Annuals and Tropicals
  • Edibles
  • Vines
  • Ornamentation
  • Containers
  • Structures
  • Seasonal Beauty and Interest

The plant profiles are quite useful, offering a good amount of information about each of the recommended plants. The back of the book also contains several useful resources, including a list of invasive plants, peak performance chart, and conversion tables.

Quotes from "The Nonstop Garden"

Here are some of my favorite quotes from The Nonstop Garden:

  • "It's no wonder that we often start our gardening journey as plant segregationists. We are hardwired that way. We began cultivating the earth out of necessity, for food. Plots of this and plots of that were the most efficient way to go. Unfortunately, this approach trickled into ornamental gardening..."
  • "Turf does offer a place for pets and children to scamper about, but perhaps we have too much of it. Mixed plantings are engaging to people and wildlife."
  • "The easiest way to begin building mixed borders is by dividing your landscape into bite-sized spaces."
  • "For many gardeners, buying plants is an addiction like a sweet tooth. We cannot stop at just one, and we are always on the lookout for our next tasty treat."
  • "Every square inch of the garden does not need to burst with lush, green growth. The bare stems of our favorite shrubs make gorgeous focal points among leafy cohorts."
  • "Leave garden cleanup until spring. Old habits die hard, but try to hold off on reaching for your pruners and rake until spring. Leaving dried seedheads and stems in the garden through winter can add another level of interest as well as food and shelter for wildlife."


I highly recommend The Nonstop Garden for anyone who is intimidated by the idea of designing and planting an ornamental garden. The advice in the book, along with the plant suggestions, make it easy for even novices to design a garden to be proud of.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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