Recommendations for Your Gardening Library
Private Gardens of the Pacific Northwest
Brian D. Coleman. Gibbs Smith, Kaysville, UT, 2021. 256 pages.
Publisher’s price, hardcover: $50
FOR ANY garden lover who longs to peer over the proverbial garden wall, Private Gardens of the Pacific Northwest will take them on an exciting armchair tour. “Whether it’s a Portland garden filled with hummingbirds and butterflies or a garden of ponds in rural Redmond, Washington, a good garden should be a nurturing oasis and a retreat, something to enjoy and share,” writes author Brian Coleman. The 20 gardens featured range in style from whimsical to bodacious and serene. Because the majority of them are extravagant both in size and budget, most readers will glean a few ideas for their own more modest space. There are a few exceptions, however: I appreciated Loree Bohl sharing how she fashioned several shallow pedestal planters for her unique Danger Garden, as well as Pat Riehl’s tips for protecting her specimen Tasmanian tree ferns during the region’s cold, wet winters. Each chapter focuses on one private garden with a detailed description of the garden’s inspiration, evolution, and layout, although an illustration would have been helpful to better visualize the relationship between the many garden rooms discussed, especially in the larger landscapes. The thoughtful photography captures both close-up vignettes of intriguing combinations as well as their broader context, with detailed captions offering both common and botanical plant names in addition to a description of the design itself. Readers will be intrigued by the stories of the tenacious gardeners who battled everything from blue clay to rogue horses, while avid gardeners will find themselves making lengthy wish lists of gorgeous plants. Everyone is sure to delight in each garden’s artistry—whether the inclusion of sculptural tree roots in a stumpery, or a Doric ruin installation by renowned Pacific Northwest artists Lewis and Little. As a local landscape designer, I know many of these gardens personally and am pleased that the author and photographer successfully captured the spirit both of the gardeners and their private landscapes. While each garden is unique, they all share a common passion for living one’s gardening life to the fullest, whether in a more modest West Seattle lot or vast rural acreage. —Karen Chapman Karen Chapman is a designer, author, speaker and travel guide who gardens in Duvall, Washington, where she is still trying to outwit the deer. Her website is https//lejardinetdesigns.com.
Winterland: Create a Beautiful Garden for Every Season
Cathy Rees, photographs by Lisa Looke.
Princeton Architectural Press, Hudson, NY, 2021. 192 pages.
Publisher’s price, hardcover: $30.
ALTHOUGH THE title of Cathy Rees’ new book refers to every season, it is winter that steals the show. Readers who long for cold, crisp winter days will linger over the beautiful photos taken by Lisa Looke. Even those of us without an affinity for winter will feel the draw of the season in the still landscapes clarified by white. The book far surpasses the obligatory reference to “winter interest” in landscape books. As Rees, a landscape designer in Maine, enthuses, “winter can be glorious, too. Getting out into—or just admiring—the garden during this long season can enrich our lives and nurture our tenuous connection to nature.” Autumn scenes add color to the pages with greens, browns, and yellows, as well as with red berries or an iconic red New England barn. Rees uses these two seasons to illustrate integral landscape design concepts. In a climate with seven months of winter, gardeners cannot rely on the much-loved herbaceous layer and flowering shrubs to provide the most important element of garden design: structure. A strong structure makes all gardens, even the most floriferous, better. Structure is best observed in winter, when a garden is at its most elemental. In fall, the foliage of deciduous trees accentuates the grace of branches that in summer blend into the large greenness of the canopy and middle and ground layers. In winter, however, it’s clear how the leafless trees illustrate the notion of scale, which, when used effectively, makes a garden both grand and welcoming. Pergolas, arbors, fences, and gates hold their own in the landscape without beds, vines, and meadows in bloom. The stone used in the garden for paths, walls, and terraces seems to become even more weighty, adding a serious, somber, reflective tone. Rees includes the suggestion to remember the wildlife and leave garden cleanup tasks for the spring so that native insects have places to lay eggs for a new generation the following year. As a New England resident, Rees’s approach is to make the place where you live and garden enjoyable in every season. This is a lesson for all gardeners, no matter where you live. m —Judy Nauseef Judy Nauseef is a landscape designer and freelance writer living in Iowa City, Iowa.