West Coast gardening guru Ann Lovejoy has gained a significant following, and deservedly so--she's a gifted teacher, a lyrical writer, and a passionate advocate of organic solutions to even the most daunting garden problems. Her Organic Garden Design School is meant for readers who still consider themselves students, but who are serious enough to "move beyond the beginner stage." A 36-page workbook concludes this glossy, lavishly illustrated volume. Workbook assignments include "Drawing a Map," "Testing Soil," and "Minding Your Mulch."
As a designer of gardens that are faithful to the natural world and don't require too much pruning or artificial control, Lovejoy invents her own terms. Her style resembles English gardening, except she warns against the nostalgic impulse many gardeners fall into, determined to create gardens from another era or another country. Lovejoy's an advocate of "gardening where you live," not forcing a dream of another place onto the landscape. She emphasizes native plants, designing around slopes or flaws, working with shade or sunlight as they appear. Perhaps most instructive are her "five senses" of the garden: the sense of welcome, enclosure, and entry, flow, and place. "Rather than physical attributes," she writes, "these are more subtle aspects that give each garden its own flavor and character." --Emily White
As gifted a writer as she is a gardener, Lovejoy is always a pleasure to read, and her lyric prose is at the heart of this inspired and inspiring volume for the intermediate gardener that offers a conceptually sophisticated, but eminently accessible (and entirely organic) method for creating naturalistic beauty. "I believe that gardens are more serene when they reflect what's found in nature," writes Lovejoy, who encourages readers to stay keenly attuned to their surroundings and "cooperate" with plants instead of trying to "control" them. Based on the same curriculum she uses in her Seattle classes, this excellent book leads readers through Lovejoy's principles to successful garden design, including "the five senses of the garden" (welcome, enclosure, entry, flow and place), plant layering, the "golden bowl effect" (a sunny central area surrounded by "plants and key trees for privacy") and "an informal rule of thirds" (one third evergreens, one third deciduous structural plants [trees and shrubs] and one third perennials). Maintenance and care of a garden that is as lovely as it is nearly self-sustaining are also covered, and the book includes a workbook that allows readers to gather site information in a logical way, set goals and create an overall garden plan. Lovejoy is consistently lively, and readers may find themselves as charmed by her singular turns of phrase (hydrangeas' "skeletal flowerheads seem to rebloom when heaped with snow") as they are by her horticultural wisdom. (Mar. 16)
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