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Easton also identifies key plants that can be used to enhance the archetypal patterns of garden-making. A Pattern Garden opens up a range of exciting possibilities and changes the way we see and think about the garden spaces around us. It articulates the difference between a garden that is merely well-tended, and one that appeals to our real human need for beauty, respite, and meaning.
Posted March 5, 2007
This book has its merit and under a different title, `Garden Elements¿, for example, it is one I might have not found fault with. I am an author. I know how much work goes into a book and how easy it is to criticize what you have not spilled blood over creating, so it is with considerable hesitation and not a little angst that I write this review. But as I so value the overall concept this book pretends to address, I must and because I don¿t believe much blood was spilled, I will. I too am a devotee (as Ms. Easton claims to be) of the deep wisdom contained in the book, ¿A Pattern Language¿. In addition, I treasure ¿The Timeless Way To Build¿ and ¿Patterns of Home¿, by the same architect and group of architects. In those books, quintessential patterns about which we can think, that we can easily understand, that we can use to design by and apply to varied situations and ultimately experience are simply, clearly and thoroughly explored and presented. This book is not remotely related to those enduring works and the concepts expressed here have nothing in common with the archetypical patterns those authors have explored. This is not a book about patterns for garden making. The title, ¿A Pattern Garden, The Essential Elements of Garden Making¿, is a shameless and unearned pairing of this book with those previously mentioned, ultimately venerable books. As an example, Ms. Easton speaks of `Patterns of Scale¿, about which she states: ¿No element in a garden design is more elusive to grasp than scale, yet nothing more greatly influences how you feel when in the garden. You know correct scale when you feel it¿the trick is figuring out how to create outdoor spaces in harmonious proportion to the home they surround.¿ Lovely sentence. And erroneous in every respect. `Scale¿ is not a pattern, it is a principle of design which every designer knows. Nor is it the most elusive element to grasp, and though very important, it is not necessarily the most dominant influence in the garden. Further, the principle of scale does not apply only to garden and the home but to the entire space as well, and everything in it. In Alexander and company¿s ¿A Pattern Language¿ and ¿The Timeless Way To Build¿ distinct patterns are presented that can be applied to many styles and situations and altered to fit a given situation. For example, there is the pattern `Courtyards Which Live¿, in ¿The Timeless Way of Building¿ and the elemental values which go into the making of living courtyards are identified - No such distinctive, archetypical patterns are to be found in Ms. Easton¿s book and no clear patterns for anything emerge. She speaks of courtyards, and presents several very fine ones. But where is the underlying, archetypical pattern which we can comprehend and upon which we can build? Not in this book. And if indeed, these truly were archetypical patterns, why are so many of the gardens presented (and the elements which comprise them, which this book is really about) which are supposed to represent these patterns, so beyond the reach of most people? Let me take another example. Ms. Easton quotes Beverly Nichols, an English garden writer and novelist, (also not a garden designer) as saying that ¿every garden must begin and end with water... If the reader¿s retort is `In that case, I haven¿t got a garden at all because I haven¿t got water in it¿, my reply is `Quite¿. You haven¿t got a garden.¿ I love water in a garden and on the whole I advocate gardens with water. But that statement by Nichols, underwritten by Ms. Easton is nonsense. There are gardens worthy of the title that do not have water features in them. And shouldn¿t. The book has merit. There is plenty of sound advice, good information, many solid design principles are well taken up and exhibited and the book contains lots of beautiful images. But rather than being the elevated, illuminating and timeless treatise on fundamental patterns applicable to all manner of gardenWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2010
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