Disabato-Aust, Tracy 1959- (Tracy Marie DiSabato-Aust)

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Disabato-Aust, Tracy 1959- (Tracy Marie DiSabato-Aust)

PERSONAL:

Born 1959. Education: Ohio State University, B.Sc., 1981, M.Sc., 1987; has also studied horticulture in Canada, England, and Belgium.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Columbus, OH.

CAREER:

Professional horticulturalist and garden designer, 1978—. Has worked for the Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Kalmthout Arboretum, Belgium; Longwood Gardens and Knightshayes Court, England; has also taught horticulture to children with special needs. Lecturer, guest on television and radio programs.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Garden Media Award, Perennial Plant Association, 2004.

WRITINGS:

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting & Pruning Techniques, Timber Press (Portland, OR), 1998, expanded edition, 2006.

The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs, Timber Press (Portland, OR), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Real Simple, Country Gardens, Midwest Living, Garden Design, Fine Gardening, Garden Gate, and American Nurseryman.

SIDELIGHTS:

Tracy DiSabato-Aust became interested in gardening when she was still in high school. "I fell in love with plants in high school because of a storage room that my botany teacher had turned into a plant room full of tropical plants under fluorescent lighting," she recalled in an interview for Timber Press. "It was a magical place to me." Soon, she found work in a nursery and enjoyed it so much that she studied horticulture and education in college. Earning a master's degree, she continued to learn about gardening by working at botanical gardens in England, Belgium, and Canada. She enjoys not only working in gardens but also educating people about them. At one time, she taught special-needs children the basics of gardening, and she currently lectures and appears in radio and television programs, offering tips to people of all ages.

DiSabato-Aust has been praised for her books, too, which are thorough guides to the art of gardening that critics have lauded not only for their detail but also for being approachable and nonthreatening to readers interested in learning about horticulture. Her first book is The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting & Pruning Techniques. Here, DiSabato-Aust is not shy in sharing with her readers all the little-known tricks she has picked up as a professional. She explains the subtleties of deadheading and pinching to coax more blooms out of perennials, includes an appendix that offers points on what should be done for each month of the year to maintain one's perennials, and provides no fewer than thirty-five different categories of pruning and maintenance of these plants. Eight years after its publication, DiSabato-Aust released a revised edition of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden that includes more illustrations and space for a journal to be kept by the gardener. A California Bookwatch contributor reported that it has "more depth than the usual light perennial" guide.

"I felt there was a need for a current book about mixed gardens that would provide information as well as inspiration about design and dispel the mystery that often surrounds it," the author told Timber Press, explaining why she wrote her second book, The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs. A description of this work was offered on the Ohio State University Horticulture and Crop Science department Web site: "The Well-Designed Mixed Garden is more than just a book on design basics, however. Lessons learned in its first two parts are strengthened … [through] 27 sample vignettes of compatible plants. Each entry addresses the design considerations at play … and provides tips on how to keep the combination looking its best." The reviewer also called it a "nearly foolproof guide." Carol Haggas, writing for Booklist, lauded the "trademark exuberance, expertise, and efficiency" that DiSabato-Aust infectiously conveys in her "absolutely indispensable" book. Library Journal reviewer Beth Clewis Crim felt that the garden designs included in the book are "particularly impressive" and stated that it offers a "wealth of information."

DiSabato-Aust aims to spread her enthusiasm for gardening to others, and noted in her Timber Press interview that less-expert gardeners should not let themselves be intimidated by the beautiful photographs they see in books, because these are obviously showing the gardens at their best: "I always tell my audiences when I speak that they shouldn't be intimidated when they see all the pretty pictures at garden lectures or in books. They need to remember we normally show our gardens or our clients' gardens only on ‘good hair days!’" On the American Society for Horticultural Science Web site, she related: "Having a career in horticulture is a blessing. It is a gift that has been given to me, and I am grateful for what I can give to others."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Gardener, September-October, 1998, Michael Zajic, review of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting & Pruning Techniques, p. 54; July-August, 2003, Renee Beaulieu, review of The Well-Designed Mixed Garden: Building Beds and Borders with Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, and Bulbs, p. 54.

Booklist, December 15, 2002, Carol Haggas, review of The Well-Designed Mixed Garden, p. 716.

California Bookwatch, December, 2006, review of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden.

Christian Science Monitor, December 3, 2003, review of The Well-Designed Mixed Garden, p. 16.

Horticulture, Gardening at Its Best, January, 1999, review of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, p. 80; September, 2003, review of The Well-Designed Mixed Garden, p. 68; September-October, 2004, Gordon Hayward, review of The Well-Designed Mixed Garden, p. 68.

Library Journal, December, 1999, review of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, p. 83; December, 2000, review of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, p. 86; February 1, 2003, Beth Clewis Crim, review of The Well-Designed Mixed Garden, p. 109.

Organic Gardening, January, 1999, Karan Davis Cutler, review of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, p. 67.

Publishers Weekly, February 23, 1998, review of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, p. 72.

Quill & Quire, October, 2001, review of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, p. 31.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2003, review of The Well-Designed Mixed Garden, p. 245; November, 2006, review of The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, revised edition.

Science News, May 10, 2003, review of The Well-Designed Mixed Garden, p. 303.

ONLINE

American Society for Horticultural Science Web site,http://www.ashs.org/ (March 1, 2008), interview with Tracy DiSabato-Aust.

Ohio State University Horticulture and Crop Science Department Web site,http://hcs.osu.edu/ (March 1, 2008), review of The Well-Designed Mixed Garden.

Timber Press Web site,http://www.timberpress.com/ (March 1, 2008), biography and interview with Tracy DiSabato-Aust.

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Disabato-Aust, Tracy 1959- (Tracy Marie DiSabato-Aust)

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