The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage

The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage

NOOK Book(eBook)

$17.49 $25.95 Save 33% Current price is $17.49, Original price is $25.95. You Save 33%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now
LEND ME® See Details

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604694505
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/16/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 592,856
File size: 32 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Along with his partner, Michael Alderfer, David L. Culp is the creator of the gardens at Brandywine Cottage in Downington, Pennsylvania. David has been lecturing about gardens nationwide for more than 15 years. His articles have appeared in Country Living, Fine Gardening, Green Scene, and many other publications. He is a contributing editor to Horticulture magazine and served as chairman of the Middle Atlantic Hardy Plant Society.

An expert on herbaceous perennials, David serves as a sales consultant and new plant researcher for Sunny Border Nurseries in Connecticut. He has developed the Brandywine Hybrid strain of hellebores, and was recently cited in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise on snowdrops. The garden at Brandywine Cottage has been featured several times in Martha Stewart Living and on HGTV.

Adam Levine is an award-winning garden writer whose work has appeared in several books as well as many regional and national magazines. He lives and gardens in Media, Pennsylvania.

Rob Cardillo has been photographing gardens, plants, and the people who tend them for more than 20 years. A former director of photography at Organic Gardening, he now works for publishers, horticultural suppliers, and landscape designers throughout the United States. Visit him at

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: The Path to Brandywine Cottage
Gardening often brings me to my knees. By this I mean more than the planting, weeding, and fussing, the bended-knee, manicure-destroying grunt work that all of us do. The beauty and diversity of plants often stop me in my tracks, and I am never satisfied to simply gaze at these wonders from above. I get down on my knees to get a closer look, touching the plants and the soil they grow in, a communion that connects me to the earth and to life on Earth in an immediate, almost electric way. Many of my favorite flowers are tiny, their differences minute and seemingly inconsequential to the average observer, but I love examining all the facets of their intricate beauty. I especially love when someone kneels beside me, so I can share my fascination with a kindred spirit. Over a lifetime of varied horticultural pursuits, I have learned that the closer I look, the more astounded I become, and the more in love I fall with plants and the gardens in which they reside.

I have been a passionate plantsman and collector since I was a child, and Brandywine Cottage, the 2-acre garden I tend with Michael Alderfer in southeastern Pennsylvania, is home to unusual plants from all over the world. The collector in me thinks each individual specimen is beautiful, of course; otherwise I would not bother growing them. But the designer in me wants more than a botanical garden with each genus grown in its separate bed. Plants are the basis of my garden artistry, serving as pieces in a design puzzle, as colors in a palette, as elements of a sculpture. As with artists in any medium, the more we learn about these vehicles for our expression and the more passionate we are about them, the more ways we will find to use them and the more beautiful our gardens will become.

Combining plants in a multitude of ways, based on their habits and moods, how they live and even how they die, gives my garden successive layers of interest that extend into every month of the year. I use the term “layers” as shorthand for a design process by which I try to maximize the beauty and interest from each planted space, by combining complementary plants that either grow and bloom together or follow each other in succession. While succession planting is part of this design approach, my idea of layering goes beyond just the plants to encompass the development of each bed and how the beds relate to each other and the garden as a whole. More than just making sure one blooming plant follows another, layering is the art of creating a series of peak garden moments, the anticipation of which gets me out of bed in the morning.

Trying to describe something visual in words is like trying to write about the taste of a complex food. How would you describe the taste of a curry? I could list all the spices that go into it, come up with a few adjectives like hot and spicy, but none of this would tell you exactly how it makes you feel when you first taste it. A layered garden like mine is complex, like a curry, with depths that are not all apparent at first glance and which can be savored in many ways, at many levels. My hellebores can be seen as simply beautiful; but my hellebore breeding can be an exercise in mathematical probability that I will explain to anyone who wants to listen. And in my layered garden, my hellebore bed is more than just hellebores: otherwise why would I want to look at it once these flowers were done blooming? Layering allows me to use all the many plants I collect in exciting ways that highlight the individuals while melding the collections into a coherent and cohesive whole.

Countless people have provided me with the ideas that, sifted and composted in my mind, ended up in the ground at the Brandywine Cottage garden. Not all gardens are designed in layers, but layering is a feature of many of the gardens I love and is practiced by many of the gardeners I admire. I certainly make no claim that the “layered garden” (or anything else in this book) is my own invention. What I hope to offer, in the text and especially in the photographs and captions, is an intimate look at how one such garden has been conceived and constructed. Just as we can learn much by the peering into individual flowers, the close examination of any good garden, along with insights into the minds and the methods of its gardeners, can teach many lessons.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Well written and beautifully displayed. It gives hope and encouragement to everyone to try to build their own gardens. He teaches us there are not failures just learning experiences to gain from your choices and design. Beautiful story and a pleasure to read about this amazing place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a gardner for many years. Because I live in the midwest, most of my gardening is done in the spring and summer. This book has expanded ideas for plants for all four seasons. I have always struggled to incorporate different plants such that I will always have something new blooming. This book has given me so many new ideas and suggestions for new plant groupings. I can't wait to get started.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gives easy to follow ideas on how to produce layers of color in your gardens.
PreoccupiedPansy More than 1 year ago
I read this book cover to cover rather than just looking at the pictures and reading select captions, as I do with many garden books. I found Mr. Culp's enthusiasm to be contagious and I was charmed by his literally down-to-earth description of the evolution of his gardens. The beautiful photos were perfect illustrations of his informative topics. I believe I will use it in the future as a reference on plant layering.