Encyclopedia of Garden Design and Structure: Ideas and Inspiration for Your Garden

Overview

A ready reference of stimulating garden features from all over the world.

Renowned garden designer Derek Fell has compiled more than 800 photographs to create a personal scrapbook of his favorite design features from around the world. Together with his insightful commentary, they provide a wealth of ideas and inspiration for the home gardener.

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Overview

A ready reference of stimulating garden features from all over the world.

Renowned garden designer Derek Fell has compiled more than 800 photographs to create a personal scrapbook of his favorite design features from around the world. Together with his insightful commentary, they provide a wealth of ideas and inspiration for the home gardener.

The book features:

  • A-Z listing of more than 100 design categories, from balconies and paths to abstract concepts like silhouettes, framing, and whimsy
  • More than 800 fully captioned, full-color photographs of award-winning gardens
  • Hundreds of practical suggestions for garden planning, planting, and design, and achieving year-round interest.

Valuable tips on plant cultivation mingle with garden history and elegant description as Fell guides readers through famed gardens such as Monet's Clos Normand, Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., and Rome's Villa d'Este, plus private gardens like his own Cedaridge Farm.

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Editorial Reviews

London Free Press - Ken Smith
Not only an interesting read, but one of those books that can be included in a coffee table collection.
Harrisburg Patriot-News - George Weigel
Enough garden-design ideas to keep your head spinning from here to eternity... [Fell's] aim is to inspire readers to create their own landscape masterpiece.
Canadian Gardening - Lorraine Flanigan
An essential reference guide that's true to its title.
BellaOnline - Connie Krochmal
The definitive guide to garden design with design tips and inspiring gardens from all over the world.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Marianne Binetti
Once you dip into this beautiful book with its lavish photos, you'll realize that spectacular gardens are rarely the result of chance... If you want a taste of everything in landscape design, this encyclopedia does it.
Science News
800 color photos... Insightful commentary on selecting the best design elements, planting, and maintaining year-round interest.
Style at Home - Frank Ferragine
Even if you've designed several gardens over the years, you still need to brush up on technique and some basic principles of landscape and garden design.... This book is also good for beginners, who might be too intimidated to design their own garden.
American Reference Books Annual - Rachael Green
A lovely volume to look at... illustrates the possibilities of applying the designs of award-winning gardens to readers' own backyards. One book that truly lives up to its title, it belongs in any academic, public, or horticultural library.
Backyard Solutions
Insightful commentary [and] a wealth of ideas and inspiration for the home gardener.... A source guide to almost every kind of garden imaginable.... The book is, in short, a ready reference of stimulating garden features from all over the world.
Washington Post - Joel M. Lerner
The landscape design ideas that you have been looking for... excellent examples in every category that are guaranteed to stimulate and inspire you.
House and Home Media - Jennifer David
A comprehensive tutorial on how to create more than 100 garden features... concise, alphabetized lessons.
Canadian Living - Jo Calvert
An inspiring tour... entries range from alleys and boardwalks through vistas and weather vanes.
Globe and Mail - Marjorie Harris
A really good book for the neophyte who wants to know what all those confusing terms are... most of the photographs are just perfect... incredibly useful.
Gardening Life
A fun, pretty look at garden design... Get it because: More broad than deep, why you get here are solid-but-general descriptions.
Christian Science Monitor - Judy Lowe
800 gorgeous photos as well as brief descriptions, ideas to expand your thinking about outdoor living... By the time you reach the end, the only question will be: Which part of the landscape to tackle first?
Style at Home - Jenn Houlihan
The great gardens here, both grand and not so, will have you rushing to revamp your green space.
Beach Metro Community News - Mary Fran McQuade
[4/5 starred review] If you've read any garden book or bought a garden calendar, chances are you've seen Fell's brilliant photography. He writes here, too, but the words are just enhancements to the real content ... in this visual encyclopedia.
Vancouver Sun - Steve Whysall
An inspiring guide.
HGTV.com
Offers ideas and inspiration for incorporating various design elements in the landscape. ... Fell's great photographs are the highlight of the book.
Toronto Sun - Vena Eaton
Wonderfully illustrated and beautifully illustrated... Fell says gardeners are like artists and the garden is their canvas. His latest work is a testament to those ideals.
Globe and Mail - Carolyn Leitch
The author believes that people create gardens today for a reason... readers will find plenty of stimulation in this collection for creating their own little patch of paradise.
Winnipeg Free Press - Linda Stilkowki
Explores celebrated public and private gardens featuring opulent architecture graced by ambitious plantings, but each example also illustrate the possibilities for even the most humble of prairie gardeners to apply to their own backyards.
I Can Garden.com
Renowned garden designer Derek Fell has compiled more than 1,000 photographs to create a personal scrapbook of his favorite design features from around the world. Together with his insightful commentary, they provide a wealth of ideas and inspiration for the home gardener.... Hundreds of practical suggestions for garden planning, planting, and design, and achieving year-round interest...valuable tips on plant cultivation mingle with garden history and elegant description as Fell guides readers through famed gardens such as Monet's Clos Normand, Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., and Rome's Villa d'Este, plus private gardens like his own Cedaridge Farm.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554071296
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/4/2006
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Derek Fell is a garden designer, photographer and author of more than 100 gardening books and calendars. His articles are published worldwide and he has a photo-library of more than 150,000 garden images. Fell lives in Pennsylvania at historic Cedaridge Farm, which itself has won several awards for design excellence.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Garden Design and Structure: A to Z

  • Alleys and avenues
  • Animals and animals shelters
  • Annual gardens
  • Arbors and arches
  • Atmospheric effects
  • Balconies and balustrades
  • Basins
  • Beds and borders
  • Benches
  • Birds, bees and butterflies
  • Boardwalks
  • Boats and boathouses
  • Bog and swamp gardens
  • Bonsai
  • Boulders and story stones
  • Bridges
  • Bulb gardens
  • Chinese gardens
  • Coastal gardens
  • Cold frames and cloches
  • Color theme gardens
  • Columns, colonnades and pedestals
  • Composting
  • Conservatories and orangeries
  • Containers
  • Courtyards and patios
  • Decks and platforms
  • Driveways
  • Dry landscapes
  • Edging
  • English cottage gardens
  • Entrances
  • Espalier
  • Evening gardens
  • Fences
  • Fern gardens
  • Fountains
  • Framing
  • French gardens
  • Gates
  • Gazebos and belvederes
  • Grazing balls and concretions
  • Grass gardens
  • Grottoes
  • Groundcovers
  • Hanging baskets
  • Hedges
  • Herb gardens
  • Hillsides
  • Islamic gardens
  • Italian gardens
  • Japanese gardens
  • Knot gardens
  • Labels and signs
  • Lakes
  • Lathe houses
  • Lawns
  • Light
  • Mazes and labyrinths
  • Meadows
  • Mirrors and trompe l'oeil
  • Mosaics and pebble designs
  • Moss gardens
  • Mounds, islands and pyramids
  • Orchards and vineyards
  • Orchidgardens
  • Parterres
  • Paths
  • Paving
  • Perennial gardens
  • Pergolas
  • Playhouses and tree-houses
  • Pleaching and pollarding
  • Ponds
  • Porches and verandas
  • Raised beds
  • Reflections
  • Rhododendron gardens
  • Rock gardens
  • Rooftop gardens
  • Rose gardens
  • Ruins, towers and follies
  • Sculptures and weathervanes
  • Shade gardens
  • Shadow patterns
  • Shell designs
  • Silhouettes
  • Sitting areas and hammocks
  • Staking
  • Statuary
  • Stepping stones
  • Steps and stiles
  • Streams and spillways
  • Summerhouses and pavilions
  • Sundials
  • Swimming pools and hot tubs
  • Tapestry gardens
  • Temples
  • Terraces
  • Tool and potting sheds, and outhouses
  • Topiary
  • Tree accents
  • Tree roots, stumps and wicker
  • Trellis and treillage
  • Tropical gardens
  • Urns
  • Vegetable gardens
  • Vertical gardens
  • Vistas
  • Walls and ha-has
  • Waterfalls
  • Water gardens
  • Wellheads
  • Wheels
  • Whimsy
  • Wildflowers
  • Window boxes
  • Windows
  • Woodland gardens


Conclusion: The garden as art


About the Author

Acknowledgements

Index

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Preface

Introduction Designing the landscape

Garden writers, landscape architects and garden historians frequently debate what it is that makes a garden great and inspirational. Though opinions are diverse, many experts agree that a great garden must display a sense of artistry, using the sky and soil as a canvas and plants and structures as 'paint' to create a visually exciting space that can be formal or informal in style, large or small in size. Moreover, great gardens can exist in a wide range of settings, from the highly artificial environment of a city to stimulating natural surroundings such as that of a Scottish loch, a Normandy river valley or a Carolina coastal swamp.

When painters seek artistic development and inspiration they visit great art collections, like those in the Louvre, Paris, the Tate Gallery, London, and the Getty Museum, Los Angeles. When gardeners seek inspiration there is no one place to find a wide selection of styles and designs, hence the reason for this book. Though it may reflect a personal appreciation of garden designs, it is a convenient collection of stimulating garden features from all over the world, aimed at presenting a gallery of useful ideas in an encyclopedic listing for ready reference.

Gardens of inspiration

The great French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, considered his garden at Giverny, north of Paris, his greatest work of art, and as many as a hundred special design ideas can be gleaned from visiting the restored garden today. In his Clos Normand flower garden, these include visually exciting color harmonies such as his hot-color borders, using mostly yellow, orange and red flowers. Another Monet innovation is the floral tunnel, his Grande Allée. He used climbing roses on arches to create the roof and perennials, such as asters, to form the sides. Nasturtiums planted to creep across the path completed the tunnel effect.

In Monet's water garden, a Japanese-style arched bridge with a canopy of blue and white wisteria is probably the most familiar garden structure ever made, and the inspiration for many bridges like it worldwide.

Since artistry is so important to a garden's success, many of the design ideas for this book are from the restored gardens of Monet and his painter friends, Renoir and Cezanne. Other images have been selected from inspirational gardens all over the world, not only public gardens in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Australasia, but also little-known private gardens.

A study of Paul Cezanne's half-acre restored garden at Aix-en-Provence, and Auguste Renoir's five-acre restored garden near Nice reveals startling design innovation quite different from that of Monet. Though all three artists were friends and identified with the Impressionist movement, their gardens are as different as their painting styles. While Monet created a labor-intensive design using mostly flowers to 'paint' his outdoors sanctuary, and taking color high on trellises and arches, Cezanne planted a labor-saving garden using less ephemeral elements of nature. His restored garden is essentially a shade garden, terraced with quarry stones and filled with trees and shrubs that paint a tapestry of foliage colors, their trunks pruned to create eerie sinuous lines.

Renoir purchased an old olive orchard to save it from development and created a retreat where he could pose nudes as though they were sitting in shadowy woodland on the upper slope of his property. He also seated models on a sun-drenched wildflower meadow at the lower part. Like Monet, who built a boat so he could paint his water garden from the middle of his pond, Renoir constructed a rustic shelter with floor-to-ceiling windows so he could paint the main tree-lined vista during inclement weather, his nude model seated outside in dappled light.

Even the well-respected Victorian garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll, gleaned ideas for her plantings from studying the work of the great French Impressionist painters.

Many of the ideas featured in this book are from my own garden, historic Cedaridge Farm, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. They have been realized from studying gardens worldwide, never slavishly copied, but adapted to the environment of an historic farm dating back to 1791, and similar to the historic farm Renoir purchased as his home in Provence. At Cedaridge Farm there are no power lines visible, and like Renoir we try to maintain an old-fashioned appearance, making repairs with rusty hinges and nails, and never minding if shutters show peeling paint. Spring and autumn are cool, summers are hot and humid, and winters invariably bring snow and cold that will freeze the ground solid to the depth of a spade. As a consequence of creating twenty theme areas connected by a stroll path, the garden has received several awards for design excellence, including 'Best Interpretation of an Impressionist Garden'.

Informal versus formal design

The years between 1600 and 1900 saw formal garden design hugely popular, particularly in Europe and North America. In recent years formality has experienced a decline, perhaps because people today see enough formality in their daily lives and yearn for more intimacy with nature. Also, informal gardens generally are less costly than formal ones, which often require expensive stonework and regular pruning of hedges to keep the design sharply defined. Therefore, the first design decision when contemplating the creation of a garden is to determine whether it should be formal or informal, or a combination of the two disciplines.

Popular examples of formal gardens are those created in Italy during the Renaissance, such as the Villa Lante and Villa d'Este, which in turn inspired the great French gardens of Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles, and the California garden of Hearst Castle, weekend retreat of newspaper magnate the late Randolph Hearst. Japanese and Chinese gardens, with their emphasis on stone, water and evergreen trees, are also considered formal because the dynamics of both garden styles rely heavily on exaggeration through pruning and mounding, and the precise placement of stone and water features, even though the end result is not as formal as the Italian model.

Informal gardens have always existed around country cottages of Europe, particularly in Normandy and England, but it was the publisher William Robinson, and one of his contributors, Gertrude Jekyll, who rebelled against the formality of Victorian carpet bedding to advocate informal garden designs for estates, inspiring the planting of meadow gardens, rock gardens and woodland gardens,
using flowering plants generously and naturalistically.

Softscape versus hardscape components

Though many garden spaces, such as meadow gardens, can be made entirely by using plants ('softscape' to use the term preferred by landscape architects), it is often the use of structural elements (or 'hardscape') which produces the strongest sense of design. These hardscape elements can be highly functional (like bridges and paths) or strictly ornamental (like sculpture and fountains).

It should be realized that the more hardscape used for a garden, the less labor-intensive it is likely to be. Woody plants generally do not need the upkeep of herbaceous plants like annuals and perennials, which explains the liking among many modern designers to create minimalist gardens, where a potted plant with a strong sculptural quality, like a candelabra euphorbia (Euphorbia candelabrum), may be the only embellishment to a courtyard.

Seasonal considerations

It is sometimes difficult to keep a garden picture-perfect through all four seasons, and so it may be desirable to go for a big boost of color during a favorite season. Spring is an obvious first choice because it is a welcome respite from winter's bleakness, and more floral color can be concentrated into spring than any other time. Rainfall is usually plentiful, while summer months can bring drought. However, meadow gardens can look their best

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

Designing the landscape

Garden writers, landscape architects and garden historians frequently debate what it is that makes a garden great and inspirational. Though opinions are diverse, many experts agree that a great garden must display a sense of artistry, using the sky and soil as a canvas and plants and structures as 'paint' to create a visually exciting space that can be formal or informal in style, large or small in size. Moreover, great gardens can exist in a wide range of settings, from the highly artificial environment of a city to stimulating natural surroundings such as that of a Scottish loch, a Normandy river valley or a Carolina coastal swamp.

When painters seek artistic development and inspiration they visit great art collections, like those in the Louvre, Paris, the Tate Gallery, London, and the Getty Museum, Los Angeles. When gardeners seek inspiration there is no one place to find a wide selection of styles and designs, hence the reason for this book. Though it may reflect a personal appreciation of garden designs, it is a convenient collection of stimulating garden features from all over the world, aimed at presenting a gallery of useful ideas in an encyclopedic listing for ready reference.

Gardens of inspiration

The great French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, considered his garden at Giverny, north of Paris, his greatest work of art, and as many as a hundred special design ideas can be gleaned from visiting the restored garden today. In his Clos Normand flower garden, these include visually exciting color harmonies such as his hot-color borders, using mostly yellow, orange and red flowers. Another Monetinnovation is the floral tunnel, his Grande Allée. He used climbing roses on arches to create the roof and perennials, such as asters, to form the sides. Nasturtiums planted to creep across the path completed the tunnel effect.

In Monet's water garden, a Japanese-style arched bridge with a canopy of blue and white wisteria is probably the most familiar garden structure ever made, and the inspiration for many bridges like it worldwide.

Since artistry is so important to a garden's success, many of the design ideas for this book are from the restored gardens of Monet and his painter friends, Renoir and Cezanne. Other images have been selected from inspirational gardens all over the world, not only public gardens in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Australasia, but also little-known private gardens.

A study of Paul Cezanne's half-acre restored garden at Aix-en-Provence, and Auguste Renoir's five-acre restored garden near Nice reveals startling design innovation quite different from that of Monet. Though all three artists were friends and identified with the Impressionist movement, their gardens are as different as their painting styles. While Monet created a labor-intensive design using mostly flowers to 'paint' his outdoors sanctuary, and taking color high on trellises and arches, Cezanne planted a labor-saving garden using less ephemeral elements of nature. His restored garden is essentially a shade garden, terraced with quarry stones and filled with trees and shrubs that paint a tapestry of foliage colors, their trunks pruned to create eerie sinuous lines.

Renoir purchased an old olive orchard to save it from development and created a retreat where he could pose nudes as though they were sitting in shadowy woodland on the upper slope of his property. He also seated models on a sun-drenched wildflower meadow at the lower part. Like Monet, who built a boat so he could paint his water garden from the middle of his pond, Renoir constructed a rustic shelter with floor-to-ceiling windows so he could paint the main tree-lined vista during inclement weather, his nude model seated outside in dappled light.

Even the well-respected Victorian garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll, gleaned ideas for her plantings from studying the work of the great French Impressionist painters.

Many of the ideas featured in this book are from my own garden, historic Cedaridge Farm, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. They have been realized from studying gardens worldwide, never slavishly copied, but adapted to the environment of an historic farm dating back to 1791, and similar to the historic farm Renoir purchased as his home in Provence. At Cedaridge Farm there are no power lines visible, and like Renoir we try to maintain an old-fashioned appearance, making repairs with rusty hinges and nails, and never minding if shutters show peeling paint. Spring and autumn are cool, summers are hot and humid, and winters invariably bring snow and cold that will freeze the ground solid to the depth of a spade. As a consequence of creating twenty theme areas connected by a stroll path, the garden has received several awards for design excellence, including 'Best Interpretation of an Impressionist Garden'.

Informal versus formal design

The years between 1600 and 1900 saw formal garden design hugely popular, particularly in Europe and North America. In recent years formality has experienced a decline, perhaps because people today see enough formality in their daily lives and yearn for more intimacy with nature. Also, informal gardens generally are less costly than formal ones, which often require expensive stonework and regular pruning of hedges to keep the design sharply defined. Therefore, the first design decision when contemplating the creation of a garden is to determine whether it should be formal or informal, or a combination of the two disciplines.

Popular examples of formal gardens are those created in Italy during the Renaissance, such as the Villa Lante and Villa d'Este, which in turn inspired the great French gardens of Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles, and the California garden of Hearst Castle, weekend retreat of newspaper magnate the late Randolph Hearst. Japanese and Chinese gardens, with their emphasis on stone, water and evergreen trees, are also considered formal because the dynamics of both garden styles rely heavily on exaggeration through pruning and mounding, and the precise placement of stone and water features, even though the end result is not as formal as the Italian model.

Informal gardens have always existed around country cottages of Europe, particularly in Normandy and England, but it was the publisher William Robinson, and one of his contributors, Gertrude Jekyll, who rebelled against the formality of Victorian carpet bedding to advocate informal garden designs for estates, inspiring the planting of meadow gardens, rock gardens and woodland gardens, using flowering plants generously and naturalistically.

Softscape versus hardscape components

Though many garden spaces, such as meadow gardens, can be made entirely by using plants ('softscape' to use the term preferred by landscape architects), it is often the use of structural elements (or 'hardscape') which produces the strongest sense of design. These hardscape elements can be highly functional (like bridges and paths) or strictly ornamental (like sculpture and fountains).

It should be realized that the more hardscape used for a garden, the less labor-intensive it is likely to be. Woody plants generally do not need the upkeep of herbaceous plants like annuals and perennials, which explains the liking among many modern designers to create minimalist gardens, where a potted plant with a strong sculptural quality, like a candelabra euphorbia (Euphorbia candelabrum), may be the only embellishment to a courtyard.

Seasonal considerations

It is sometimes difficult to keep a garden picture-perfect through all four seasons, and so it may be desirable to go for a big boost of color during a favorite season. Spring is an obvious first choice because it is a welcome respite from winter's bleakness, and more floral color can be concentrated into spring than any other time. Rainfall is usually plentiful, while summer months can bring drought. However, meadow gardens can look their best in mid to late summer, and the same can be true of water gardens, for waterlilies flower more profusely during summer months.

Gardens that rely on trees and shrubs for visual excitement can look sensational in autumn. Although winter is a season of dormancy for many plants, it is a good time to study gardens because essential design elements such as bridges, gazebos, benches, paths and pools can best be appreciated without the distraction of flowering plants and dense foliage cover. Outlined and defined with a dusting of frost or snow, strong design elements can be accentuated.

A definition of terms

When a new garden is contemplated, there are several kinds of professional help that can be considered, and this can lead to confusion. While even large gardens can be accomplished as a do-it-yourself project, with no professional help, many people today will consider employing the services of a landscape architect, a landscape designer (also called a garden designer), and a landscape contractor.

It was Frederick Law Olmsted (the person responsible for landscaping New York City's Central Park) who is credited with coining the term 'landscape architect' to describe a person who professionally performs the function of altering and planting the land. Legally and conceptually there are differences between a landscape architect and a landscape designer (or garden designer).

Landscape architects must take several years of training, and pass a test to be licensed in most countries. On the other hand, a landscape designer, or garden designer, can have no formal training, and can be anyone who designs outdoor spaces, using primarily plants and rudimentary hardscape elements, such as decks and patios. Though both a landscape architect and a landscape designer may be capable of producing a site plan, it is the landscape contractor who takes the approved drawings and uses construction equipment like bulldozers and backhoes to move earth and lay stone.

Early inspiration

A lot of great garden design is learned from the distant past. Some of the first gardens of which we have knowledge were created in Persia, by sultans, about 3000 BC. Denoting wealth and power, these highly formal spaces were walled to keep out drifting sand, and laid out in a geometric quadrant design, with rills dividing the outer square into smaller squares. A basin or water fountain usually marked the middle, and water channels tapping run-off from distant snow-covered mountains were designed to irrigate fruit trees such as almonds and figs through underground conduits that sometimes extended thirty miles. Invariably, one end of the garden would feature a raised pavilion, richly draped with curtains, as a place for entertaining and feasting and taking in the garden view.

About 1500 BC, emperors in China began to establish gardens as a symbol of prestige, and we know that the Emperor Wu, at the height of the Roman Empire in Europe, was inspired to create a garden out of a religious belief that immortals dwelled in a land known as the Mystic Isles. Failing to find the Mystic Isles within his domain, he constructed a lake with islands to represent the Mystic Isles of his imagination, and the shorelines were landscaped to represent a rocky coast. Later, with the advent of Buddhism, Chinese monks developed similar lake-and-island gardens as part of their monastic life, and also as a reminder that the souls of believers of Buddhism dwelt in a blissful landscape surrounded by the fragrance of flowers and the sounds of celestial music. These visually soothing places were rich in symbolism to show veneration of nature, using manmade mounds to represent hills, boulders brought down from mountains to represent rocky islands, and specially pruned conifers to recreate the reverence and serenity of trees twisted and shaped by adversity. These early Chinese gardens greatly influenced Japanese gardens, which became more highly refined as uplifting, spiritual places.

The Garden of Eden, referred to in the Bible as the home of Adam and Eve, was a sanctuary where 'everything that is pleasant to the sight and good for food' grew without effort. A common concept of paradise, the Garden of Eden is portrayed in most religious and botanical art as a woodland-and-water garden, containing a rich collection of exotic plants, like a botanical garden. With the decline of Rome and the spread of Christianity, gardens throughout Europe were cloistered inside monasteries as a means of being self-sufficient. These contained mostly edible and medicinal plants, often in raised beds using boards on edge or low woven wicker fences to contain the soil. They were laid out in squares dissected by paths, often with a well at the center as a functional focal point, or a stone crucifix as a symbol of Biblical inspiration.

The Arab prophet, Mohammed, was born in Mecca about AD570. Inspired by the Old Testament, he founded the religion known as Islam, independent of Christianity. By the 8th century, Islam extended from Morocco in the west to India in the east. In his book of the Koran, Mohammed predicted that a Day of Judgement would decide who could enter a beautiful pleasure garden and live in perpetual tranquility, shaded by trees and cooled by spring-fed streams. In later centuries wealthy followers of Mohammed created their own pleasure gardens as havens of tranquility on earth.

Today, the best surviving examples of Islamic gardens are at the Alhambra Palace, in Granada, dating to the 1400s when the Moors (Islamic Moroccans) occupied Spain. These are mostly courtyards laid out in a formal grid design of multiple quadrants, like the early Persian gardens, but with even more embellishment, using colorful tile work to edge water channels, and an enclosure of arched passages featuring intricate stone fretwork to resemble lace.

Soon after the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, cardinals of the Vatican, in Italy, as symbols of their prestige and power began to create incredibly ornate gardens, the most ostentatious of which is the Villa d'Este, near Rome. Constructed on a steep hillside, it is a terraced garden with a long main central axis of steps. The wide terraces feature immense water cascades and fountains, baroque statuary and water channels. The Villa d'Este inspired the great French formal garden of Vaux-le-Vicomre, home of Louis XIV's finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet. Lacking a steep hillside to build upon, Fouquet's designer, André Le Nôtre, laid out his main axis and water features on flat ground southeast of Paris. The garden's completion was marked by a fantastic fireworks display. Feeling belittled by the magnificence of Vaux-le-Vicomre, the Sun King had its owner imprisoned, and instructed Fouquet's designer to overshadow Vaux with a new palace, Versailles, northwest of Paris.

Many of the gardens of British aristocracy, such as Hampton Court Palace, Stourhead and Chatsworth, were inspired by Versailles and a desire to show prestige and status.

In America, Gooch and Sportiswood, early governors of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, brought order to the visual chaos of a forest wilderness by creating a splendid formal garden around the Governor's Palace. A canal was built for ladies and gentlemen to stroll around, geometric patterns of boxwood were installed, and pleached alleys of hornbeam were established, along with a beautiful, neat-as-a-pin, walled kitchen garden. The royal governors were proud of their miniature Versailles, but the local population saw it as an extravagant waste of their taxes, fueling the first stirrings of unrest which turned into the conflagration of the American Revolution.

Expressing one's individuality

When a focus group of baby boomers was recently asked what they most wanted in a garden, the result was surprising. Not only did the majority of respondents want a garden that expressed their own individuality, they preferred to have another person -- a professional -- design and plant that garden for them.

How does one express individuality in a garden? First, by deciding its primary purpose. For example, should it be a quiet, secluded sanctuary screened from a busy road and neighbors as a place to unwind; will it be used primarily for outdoor entertaining; or should it be a source of flowers for indoor arrangements? Should it be a minimalist garden for a busy career person, or perhaps a wildlife garden of mostly indigenous plants for a conservationist? Does the garden need to consider children and have a play area and a lawn for games? Must it take into consideration boisterous dogs? Is a water feature important? How much time can an owner spend on essential maintenance? Can the owner afford a landscape service for timely maintenance such as planting, pruning, mulching, fertilizing, soil conditioning, deadheading, irrigation, weeding, and winter clean-up? Should the theme of the garden reflect the owner's personality? For example, a Japanese garden for a collector of Oriental antiques; an Italian garden for someone of Italian heritage; an English cottage garden for an Anglophile; a combination herb-and-vegetable garden for a gourmand? Should all parts be wheelchair-accessible for an invalid in the family?

The well--publicized British coastal garden of the late Derek Jarmans, a set designer for the London theater, expressed his sensitive, earth-friendly, creative personality with a spartan cottage along a pebble shoreline on the Thames estuary, where he brought into the garden items of flotsam and jetsam, like driftwood pitted by barnacles, torn fishing nets and storm-ravaged buoys, as sculpture. These he seeded around with indigenous wildflowers like corn poppies and mallow, sea oats of and sea kale. All this was developed within view of a hideous nd I nuclear power plant, the very antithesis of Jarman's psychological yearnings.

The garden known as Little Sparta, Scotland, reflects the tenacious, controversial and artistic temperament of its owner, Ian Hamilton Finlay, whose Scottish brogue, when aroused, can make the windows rattle. 'I started to use text in the garden in different kinds of inscription,' he muses, 'It was quite unusual to have inscriptions in classical gardens, and I liked the idea.' He credits misapprehensions with the local for council with his inventiveness, for when they pronounced his of construction of a garden temple dedicated to the Greek god, Apollo, an art gallery rather than a religious building, in order to collect a tax, it raised his hackles, and made him more obstinate and ideological.

Little Sparta is now filled with replicas of Roman roads and story stones. These story stones include massive broken stone tablets laid beside a pond, as though shattered by earthquake, also a slate memorial to a ship lost at sea and set into a moss-covered stone wall.

There have been many other trend-setting and highly individualistic garden designers like Jarmans and Finlay. Most have written books or had books written about their work. This documentation is not a recent tradition. Pliny the have Younger, a first-century Roman statesman, left descriptions of his gardens at several villas he owned. His surviving plan of Tuscum (near Rome) shows a strong central, sloping axis with views to the Apennine Mountains, and a third of the garden space strictly formal, including life-size topiary animals pruned our of boxwood.

In the 18th century the names of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown (1716-83) and Sir Humphrey Repton (1752-1818) are synonymous with dignified English landscape design. Brown banished regimented formal gardens from around the house in favor of uncluttered vistas across contoured parkland salted with sheep, glittering free-form lakes and clusters of trees. Repton produced beautiful 'before' and 'after' renderings for his clients, showing his romantic concepts which allowed terraces and flowerbeds close to the house again.

Twentieth-century trendsetters

Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) worked in collaboration with English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. She developed beautiful gardens around her home, Munstead Wood, in Surrey, and committed her ideas to print in a series of books, including Colour Schemes for the Flower Garden (1914). In private ownership, the gardens at Munstead Wood, noted for its wide, long, mixed perennial borders, have been restored and are occasionally opened to the public.

Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) wrote a garden column for the British Observer newspaper and authored seven garden books. With her husband, Harold Nicolson, a career diplomat, she created the spectacular 'compartment' garden of Sissinghurst, which is now owned by the National Trust.

Thomas Church (1902-78), the leading landscape architect in California, produced a book about his work entitled Gardens are for People (1955) in which he explained his philosophy of designing gardens as outdoor rooms, with an emphasis on places for relaxation. Church's counterpart in Europe was Russell Page (1906-85) who wrote The Education of a Gardener (1962), documenting gardens he designed in France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and the USA, with an eye for formality and easy maintenance.

Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994) was a leading landscape architect in Brazil who greatly influenced tropical gardens worldwide. His style is instantly recognizable for contrasting strong modernistic architectural elements, such as Inca-inspired walls and canal-like watercourses, with dense plantings of tropical species in huge swathes. Other signatures include the use of giant forms of philodendron vines, eye-catching bromeliads in bold terracotta containers, and huge Victoria waterlily 'platters'. His garden near Rio was deeded to the state on his death, and is open to the public.

Living trendsetters are harder to identify. The naturalistic plantings of Dutchman Piet Oudolf have become extremely popular in Europe, weaving ornamental grasses and plants with wispy, see-through blossoms among drifts of flowering perennials to create an artistic, free-flowing tapestry, a style also popularized by Dutch artist Ton ter Linden. In the US the design team of Ohme and van Sweden have made this style of gardening significant over much of their careers. Mien Ruys, Penelope Hobhouse and Beth Chatto have also taken garden design in new directions.

For distinctive structural elements look to the work of Andy Goldsworthy, who fashions stones and branches into organic sculptural forms such as stone cairns and woven twig structures. Many of his designs feature a black circular hole. Though the symbolism of the black hole seems sexual, he describes it as a dimension that completes a whole, black signifying the heart of a stone or the heart of a tree, like a cave or hollow with something tantalizing and mysterious inside. His own garden, Glenluce, in Dumfrieshire, Scotland, utilizes centuries-old buildings and walls of a farm as backgrounds for his sculpture. 'If I had to describe my work in one word, that word would be "time",' he says.

Though many of Goldsworthy's creations are fleeting, using wildflower petals and ice formations, some are durable, such as the 2278 ft long, snaking Storm King Wall at the Storm King Art Center, New York State. Inspired by British farm walls common in Wales and the Yorkshire dales, it has no mortar for support. In an age when art in the garden has become abstract and contrived, it is comforting to see how Goldsworrhy produces unconventional patterns and sculptures with whatever he discovers in the outdoors -- branches, foliage, rocks, ice formations, flower petals and even pigeon feathers -- to provoke new ways to look at the wonders of nature and the magic of the garden.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2008

    A great visual encyclopedia and a source of inspiration and ideas for your garden design

    'When painters seek artistic development and inspiration they visit great art collections, like those in the Louvre, Paris, the Tate Gallery, London, and the Getty Museum, Los Angeles. When gardeners seek inspiration there is no one place to find a wide selection of styles and designs, hence the reason for this book...' Derek Fell wrote in 'Encyclopedia of Garden Design and Structure: Ideas and Inspiration for Your Garden.' He continued to discuss designing the landscape, and gardens of inspiration (the influences of great painters, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne on garden design), informal versus formal design, softscape versus hardscape components, etc. He also listed and explained the garden design terms in alphabetic order, each term is briefly discussed and demonstrated with color photos. On Derek's discussion of formal and informal gardens, I have a different opinion and I think while Chinese and Japanese traditional buildings tend to be formal and symmetric with extensive and powerful uses of grids and axes, Chinese and Japanese gardens should be considered informal gardens with their overall naturalistic layout. See my book, 'Planting Design Illustrated' for related in-depth discussion. 'Encyclopedia of Garden Design and Structure: Ideas and Inspiration for Your Garden' has 224 pages and over 1,000 color photos and over 100 garden features. Overall, it is a great visual encyclopedia and a source of inspiration and ideas for your garden design.

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