The Creative Shrub Garden

Eye-catching combinations for year-round interest.

Reviewed by Carol Gardner

If you’re looking for a book that will get your creative juices flowing, The Creative Shrub Garden by Andy McIndoe may just fill the bill. McIndoe has impeccable credentials. As managing director of Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres in Hampshire, England, he won 25 gold medals for his Hillier exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show. This is clearly a man who knows his way around design, as this book amply demonstrates.

He does the traditional thing by having an alphabetical listing of shrubs and their care. The author doesn’t discuss USDA gardening zones (England has its own system, which isn’t discussed here) so, some of the shrubs are not viable in Toronto gardens. It’s best to do some research before you fall in love with something!

The author talks about how to create various garden moods (cool & calming, uplifting, mellow and glowing, etc) and how to adopt different design styles (coastal, cottage garden, tropical). There’s plenty of advice on how to select the companion plants (perennials, bulbs) to enhance the mood or style you’re creating. McIndoe very cleverly deals with the garden size issue by suggesting small planting schemes and then shows how to build them for medium-size and larger gardens.

If I have one criticism of the book, it’s that the photographs (taken by various people) are not as vivid as they could be; the author seems to favour black backgrounds, which should work, but somehow doesn’t. However, every other aspect of the book is inspiring.

The Creative Shrub Garden would, I think, be a welcome addition to the library of any gardener who wants to inject a certain je ne sais quoi into his or her own home garden. The Creative Shrub Garden. Eye-catching combinations for year-round interest by Andy McIndoe, Timber Press

Carol Gardner is a freelance garden writer. She is chair of the TBG Trellis magazine and Through the Garden Gate Committees