Anyone familiar with Taunton Press' fine magazines-Fine Woodworking, Fine Homebuilding, Fine Gardening, Fine Cooking-should not be surprised at the quality and style of this latest collection. From the editors of Fine Gardening magazine, this series of guides takes the reader on a wide-ranging journey through the world of garden design. As inspiring as they are informative, these four volumes will provide plenty of ideas for the home gardener as well as serious amateurs and even professional garden designers.
As with other collections that have evolved from Taunton's various publications, these books contain short pieces by a number of authors on a variety of topics. Even with more than fifty authors contributing, the writing is consistent throughout, with an accessible and (as one might expect) magazine-style presentation. The authors are professional garden designers, landscape architects, garden writers and editors, nursery owners, teachers, self-taught amateur gardeners, even a music publisher, and an attorney. Most of the stories are first person and anecdotal along the lines of "how I transformed my bare, drab backyard into a lush wonderland of flowers" or "how I used groundcovers and shrubs to design a front yard for clients who didn't want a lawn." High-quality color photos add visual inspiration on each page.
The books are full of practical advice, ideas, and how-to information, including sketches and plant lists with both common and Latin names. The editors also have done a good job of arranging the information, grouping articles into three or four sections of different aspects within the main topic. Designing with Plants, for example, is divided into Planting Design Techniques, Adding Color to Your Garden, Plants for Special Places, and Plants That Extend the Season. In one of the Designing with Plants articles, author Judith Gries takes the reader through the detailed process of designing and installing an allee (a double row of trees with a path between). She explains how to make an allee in a small garden look longer by varying the spacing of the trees to force the perspective.
The first part of Landscaping Your Home, Getting Started, begins with two articles where the author, Lee Ann White, consulting editor of Fine Gardening, gains insight into the design process. She does this by tagging along with landscape architect Jeni Webber on a site visit and client meeting, and then visits Webber's studio as a master plan develops for the property. This is followed by Webber's list of 20 Things to Think about When You Design and practical advice on how to measure and draw one's own site plan. In addition to Getting Started, this volume includes Creative Approaches to the Design Process, Innovative Front Yard Ideas, and A Gallery of Innovative Landscaping Ideas.
Exploring Garden Style contains a section on Traditional Gardens, one on Naturalistic Gardens, and a third on Theme or Specialty Gardens. The latter ranges from tropical gardens to alpine gardens and includes many things in between, such as knot gardens, rose gardens, and herb gardens.
In Creating Beds and Borders, information is found on Design Strategy, Selecting the Best Plants, Special Techniques ("Build a Bed without Breaking Your Back"), and A Gallery of Unique Beds and Borders.
While not an exhaustive exploration of any one topic, these volumes present a multitude of garden design ideas in an attractive and accessible package. Each book could probably stand on its own, but together they provide a comprehensive look at the art of home landscaping. (February)