This a wonderful new (2012) book both well written and full of beautiful photographs. Culp is poetic and witty but not sharp, snide or nasty, quite down to earth and humble--not at all pompous or pious. The concept of a layered garden is one changes with the seasons and is nice all year long. Here are some of the important points I got:
If you are a plant collector as Culp is (a plantaholic), pay equal attention to the design which he does and tells you how to do that.
Repeat the same plant to tie the garden together. Never plant just one.
Put some taller things to the front to avoid the choir look.
Have at least a few straight lines and formal spots and at least a few more natural ares.
Let different ares take over at different times.
Don't be a slave to any gardening rules.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
He talks about alot of different groups of plants he collects such as Galanthus (snowdrops), Narcissus, old-fashioned Iris, native plants, Helleborus and alot of others.
Let the site dictate what you do- don't fight it.
Often a group of one plant with a few stragglers farther away makes it look like the plant is naturalizing.
Plant tulips in gravel to discourage mice.
Small chickens running around is a nice touch -- too big and the birds wreck the place.
Likes Big Alliums such as 'Purple Sensation", Digitaluis and Salvia 'Caradonna'.
Prefers turkscap and trumpet shaped lilies,doesn't like the normal Asiatic type as much.
Don't be in a hurray to change anything right away, rather live with it a while.