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"The Perennial Gardener's Design Primer," Stephanie Cohen and Nancy J. Ondra (Storey Publishing, $24.95)
Late summer is when the garden and I droop under the relentless sun, and it's at these times I turn to the planning part of gardening. I take inventory of which plants worked and which didn't; then I take out a pencil and notebook to plan how I can move existing plants or buy new ones for fall.
A big help for me this year is "The Perennial Gardener's Design Primer: The Essential Guide To Creating Simply Sensational Gardens," a new book with advice on how to redesign old beds or add new ones. This isn't a book about how to double-dig or which fertilizer to use. It's about how to make it all look pretty by planning for various plant heights, textures, colors and shapes. It even breaks a few rules, such as the one about larger plants being placed only in the back of the bed. Try "airy" structured "see-through" plants such as gaura at the front of the bed - even in front of shorter plants - for a gauzy look in the garden.
(c) 2005, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.