With my review today, you're in for a treat - or not - depending upon your perspective. I'm going to tell you about my very favorite garden book. If I could only have one garden book, this would be the book I would choose. When I started designing my garden, I literally carried this book around with me everywhere I went - inside and out. It's been rained on, and the pages are close to falling out. But every time I need inspiration, or get stuck in working out a new bedding plan, I turn to this book.
But it's not for everyone. It's about formally designed gardens. So, if you don't like that style of gardens, just jump down to the linky to join in with your own garden book review. But if you like symmetrical, balanced, classical gardens, read on:
Art of the Formal Garden
by Arend Jan Van Der Horst
Symmetry with romantic plantings. That is this entire book in a nutshell. Not only are there fabulous photographs, but also garden plans, complete with plantings. I don't usually look at garden plans, as they never seem to fit in my garden. But this is not a 'follow this plan' type of book. This book gives you so many options, it allows you to come up with your own creative solutions.
The chapters are divided into different aspects found in formal gardens - hedges, herbaceous borders, water, arches and pergolas, ornaments, paths, etc. In each chapter, he gives the design element, describes specific examples used in different gardens, then lists many more additional choices of what might work in your own garden. My mind would race at the possibilities! With so much inspiration, I found that I could take the design principles and easily fit them in my own garden.
I purchased the softcover, but I so wish I had splurged for the hardcover. Who should read this book? Anyone that wants formal, symmetrical, or balanced design in their garden. I hope if you like formal, romantic gardens, you will find a copy of this book to read. You won't be disappointed!
Now it's your turn! Joining is easy, and we love to hear about new or old garden books.
You know the rules:
1) Any book about gardening, gardens, or has a garden influence in it is fine, except:
2) No links/reviews about growing substances that are illegal in the United States. (I know I don't have to worry about my blogging buddies, but I thought I needed to clarify in case someone new tries slipping one in!)
I promise to read your post, and I hope you'll read the other participants' posts, too. You never know - you may find your next favorite garden book!
I promise to read your post, and I hope you'll read the other participants' posts, too. You never know - you may find your next favorite garden book!
I am surprised to be the first to comment after seeing other book reviews. I wish I had the time to sit down with a book, but rely more on magazines see what others are reading though.ReplyDelete
And what's funny is that I rarely buy gardening magazines anymore. (I used to - a lot!) I have found that I can get so much more information from a book, at generally the same price (I buy used books), and books are easier for me to find the information when I want to look back for it. But I understand about being able to flip through a magazine, and not so much a book. Glad you've come by to see what others are reading. I always find some books to read that I probably would never have heard of otherwise.Delete
I'm pretty informal when it comes to gardening. But inspiration can be found everywhere so it's always fun to check out a book I might not normally view based on another gardeners review. :o) I linked my post to yours.ReplyDelete
I know that formal garden style is not very popular, and I realized that this book wouldn't be to everyone's taste, but for the few that love this style, I think this book is wonderful. And if you can find it at a library, it's worth flipping through (at least, I think so!). Thanks so much for linking in!Delete
I like your book choice this month. My garden has very few formal elements, but I do like having those few. This sounds like a helpful book for those areas. Thanks for hosting!ReplyDelete
It really is helpful. Not just a 'pretty picture' book, although there's plenty there, but he also tells what each design element needs - with lots of options. So everyone that reads this book would design a garden differently. I liked that.Delete
Hmm, I don't think I'm disciplined enough to achieve symmetry and formalism in my garden. However, I adore garden book eye candy. You said in an earlier comment that you buy most of your books used. Do you get them online or have some great local source? I linked in my review as well. Thanks for hosting such an interesting meme.ReplyDelete
I think cottage gardens, and naturalistic gardens, are very popular now, so the formal style is definitely not for everyone. And yes, I do buy my books used. My mother picks up garden books while at garage sales. I have a few flea markets/antique stores where I pick some up. And there are a few used book stores close by. But, the majority of my books I purchase online, especially if I'm looking for a specific book. Half.com, alibris.com, - there are a lot of different sites if you google 'discount books'. Happy shopping! Thanks for linking in!Delete
I love to visit (and look through beautiful books about) formal gardens. I personally have more of an informal cottage garden/woodland, but formal gardens are certainly inspirational in many ways. Thanks, Holley, for hosting this great meme!ReplyDelete
For quite a while after getting this book, I just look at the photos! :) Then, I finally read it, and got so much out of it. But it's worth checking out even if you just look at the pictures! Thanks for linking in with your review!Delete
What a fun meme, Holley. I've enjoyed reading through all the posts and discovering so many new books. It's a great time of year for reading in the garden :)ReplyDelete
I'm discovering a lot of great books, too. I can't wait to read some of them! Spring is a great time to get some inspiration, isn't it?Delete
Holley, I like the way you designed your own garden a lot, so when you say that the book that you are reviewing today has been a source of inspiration to you I am getting quite curious. So far I have not committed myself to a specific garden style, I think I am still trying to find what type of style I really like for my own garden, but I know that I love well done formal gardens when I visit them. I think, I will have a look into the book, if I can find it.ReplyDelete
It's an older book, but hopefully you can find one cheap, or check it out at the library. I love your garden, whatever the style you name it, and think you might actually enjoy this book.Delete
I tend to be what I call formal cottage. I like it neat and tidy with nice formal lines but I like a lot of things in there. :)ReplyDelete
Cher Sunray Gardens
That's close to what this author loves - formal lines, but filled with "romantic" plantings. Formal cottage - a great description!Delete
Holley when I first started gardening I wanted formal gardens but they never seemed to work out..this book would have helped...I have finally found my style and it is not formal although I still contend I could do this in the front beds more with natives...I think I will check it out anyway...always love to learn moreReplyDelete
I like to learn about all kinds of styles, too. I think mixing styles can be quite interesting, just as an eclectic style of interior design can be beautiful.Delete
Again can't participate as I am new into gardening and have heardly read any books on gardening. Is that top picture on your page from your garden? Then, it is FANTABULOUS, EXTRAORDINARILY FANTASTIC.ReplyDelete
Maybe this will help you find some books you would like to read. Sometimes it's just finding the right book that's the hardest part! Yes, that picture is the part of my garden I call the 'walking pathway', in bloom last summer. Thanks for the compliment!Delete
A very fun blog!ReplyDelete
I'm glad you think so! I love to read gardening books - I'm always on the lookout for another one to add to my collection!Delete
I love symmetry! I know some folks just hate, but I can’t get enough. I feel very strongly that views need to balance. When things are asymmetrical it just throws me for a loop. Thank you for sharing this book. I think I would really love it!ReplyDelete
I feel the same way, Lucy. I know some people just hate this type of garden, and that's o.k., but I just can't get enough, either! I hope you'll be able to check it out sometime - I think you'd really love it!Delete
Although I prefer a cottage look, the photo looks like a garden I would love. When I think of formal, I think of rigid, but perhaps if there are just lots of plants in my garden, I don't care about the style! Anyway, I will have to see if my library has a copy. I would at least enjoy looking at the pretty pictures! Happy Spring!ReplyDelete
I don't think many people think of billowing plantings when they think of formal gardens, but this is what he suggests - just in a more symmetrical, or balanced, style. I also realized from his pictures how beautiful non-perfection is, and don't really want perfection in my garden anymore, but romance. Because of this book, I appreciate the little plants that seed where they're not planted, and the natural decay of things.Delete
My container garden doesn't really have formal elements, but I'm always thinking of ways to arrange it and make it easier to walk through and pleasant to be in. I missed out on reviewing a book this month, but I hope to link in next month.ReplyDelete
I love that we are all looking for our own personal way to design our gardens - no matter how big or small - in a more practical yet pleasing manner. I look forward to hearing about your book next month.Delete
I'm really enjoying this meme. So many interesting book choices that I hadn't heard of before. I've never been able to follow all those plans in garden books so glad to hear this one offers options instead. I have one formal area of the garden that could use a book like this.ReplyDelete
I have never been able to follow plans, either. And for a long time, I ignored his plans. Finally, I began to look at them as suggestions of how to design around certain problems. This book has so many beautiful photographs, it's hard to get past looking and into reading. But when I started reading it, I was amazed how many insights into design he gives, and options offered. For instance, he states that a focal point at the end of a long border is generally used, whether it is a decorative gate, a structure, a large plant, a bench, a seat, an urn or a statue. Given all those different options, I could find myself deciding which look would look best for my particular garden space. I hope you'll find this book as wonderful as I did.Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
I must be really tired since I missed two errors in my first attempt.
Action...take two...roll 'em...
I don't have a single straight line in my garden except for a small patio. But I LOVE gardens that can pull off the symmetry and formal designs that you describe. Thanks again for hosting your monthly garden meme. I love seeing what everyone comes up with each month. I've reviewed one of my favorite cottage gardening/front yard gardening books for all to enjoy.
David/:0) Houston, Texas
I know what you mean - while I do love formal design, I admire so many other styles, too. The hardest part of creating a garden can be choosing the style! I love when gardeners review their favorite books. Thanks so much for joining in!Delete
I look forward to seeing what you and other garden bloggers are reading. I checked out of the library, The Artful Garden from one of your earlier garden book posts. I think I prefer to plant in groups of two and four instead of threes and fives because of the symmetry. But my garden is not formal at all. :)ReplyDelete
GirlSprout - I hope you enjoy the book. I'll admit, I didn't get excited until chapter 2, but each chapter after that made me more and more thrilled about the possibilities. It almost (not quite!) made me want to re-design my garden! I would love to know what you think about it. Interesting that you love symmetry so much, but don't consider your garden formal. I bet it is a beautiful mix.Delete
I like pretty much all gardens, even though my own style runs more semi-formal/cottage style. It sounds like it has so many ideas - especially since I adore arches and other structures!ReplyDelete
I wanted to join in this week, but then a few days ago I lost the book I was going to review before I had finished it. And it was a library book, to boot! Thankfully I found it tonight stuck among my cookbooks, so I'll be finishing it and reviewing it for next month!
I adore arches, too. I have not found a lot of places to put them in my garden, though. I would give just about anything for a garden like the one on the front of the book! I hope your library doesn't charge late charges! Glad you found it - and I look forward to hearing about it next month.Delete
This sounds like a great book and one that I have missed out on. I would like to add a bit more romance to my plantings, so I will have to look for a copy.ReplyDelete
I think when people think of formal, they think of stiff, and not romantic. But to me, all the photos in the book are very romantic. Perhaps because nature is allowed a bit of a free hand, and things are not too perfect. I hope you enjoy it.Delete
Too many to be listed, but fun to know what others are reading about gardening. Thank you!ReplyDelete
I always find new books that others have read to read myself. Nothing better than another gardener's opinion!Delete
I am not much into bood reading but rather a picture looker. LOL. I loved the stroll around your streets! Wow, it must be awesome to be surrounded by so much beauty! This would have me out walking the streets daily...ReplyDelete
haha - I love looking at the pictures, too! The azaleas, and the gardens with them in it, are really beautiful this time of year. I wish I could grow azaleas. Maybe one day I'll figure out the secret!Delete
Hi Holley - Sorry I am late with my review, but better later than never :)ReplyDelete
I think I need to get this book of yours too. If it helps me to get my gardening looking remotely like yours then its got to be the best book going! I still can't get over how beautiful your spring garden is looking ... and its only just begun.
So glad you joined in! The meme's open for a few more days, so no hurries. It's been a warm spring here, with lots of rain (yahoo!), so the plants are all opening quickly. The summer blooms won't be far behind! Then I worry that it'll be a long, hot summer! Always something to worry about!Delete
I will definitely check out that book... formal and flowery is exactly my thing :)ReplyDelete
I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can work up my first book review for next month since I missed it again. Here is to hoping!
You would probably really like this book, then. Although I can't imagine how you would improve your garden any - it's beautiful. I look forward to reading your review next month. I'm just about ready to place another big book order!Delete
Yay! I got my review done in time this month! Also I really like the sound of the book you reviewed Holley, I'll look out for it at the library!ReplyDelete
Thanks for joining in! I hope your library has a copy. I'd love to know what you think of it.Delete
Hi, may be I can find this book translated into Russian.ReplyDelete
I don't know the languages this has been translated into. I hope you can find one!Delete