Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Garden Book Reviews February 2013

Each time I purchase a garden book, I expect to enjoy it.  Some I do.  Some, not so much.

And then, there are the few that I truly savor.  I drink in the enjoyment of reading each page.  I relish each and every photo.  I appreciate the way in which the topics are presented.  And I delight in the wisdom of words by experienced gardeners.

Gardens Private and Personal: 
A Garden Club of America Book 


by Nancy D'Oench, 
is a book that was meant to be savored, and I did.

This book accomplishes several things.

First, it educates one on garden design.  It starts where anyone starts in touring a garden: from the gates and garden entrances.  Just as if you were walking through a garden, the book moves you through a garden one chapter at a time.  As you enter the gates, you ponder the views, which is the next chapter, then pathways (again, the next chapter), then areas of rest, etc. until you have experienced an entire garden tour.  The catch?  You have just toured over 90 gardens!

There is not a lot of instruction on garden design in the book, but it will make you look at your garden through new eyes - as a visitor sees your garden.

Secondly, I loved the way in which the book was composed.  A short lesson at the beginning of each chapter is followed by photos of numerous gardens.  Each photograph has an informational description.  But most delightful is that also included are quotes from the gardener.  It is as if you are touring the garden with the gardener themselves.

For instance, under the chapter "Steps", Page 44 shows a garden with terraced steps and plantings on either side.

The description of the photo states:
"This was a steep, oval amphitheater until Virginia Israelit slid from the top to the bottom on a rainy Portland, Oregon, day.  Her husband suggested steps, and her landscape designer and friend, Michael Schultz designed the terracing you see here, edged with the glow of variegated Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'), a hosta collection, plumes from Rodgersia pinnata superba, and the upright foliage of Iris pseudacorus.  The broad stairs promise something grand at the top, and they deliver - a vista of mountains and the Willamette River."

See what I mean about the photo descriptions being informational?

Thirdly, it introduces you to the garden owner, and allows them to speak for themselves.  I really enjoyed being able to get a glimpse of the gardener through their quotes.  It brought a personal touch to each of the gardens.

Keeping to same example of the photograph on page 44, the garden owner's quote in conjunction to it states:
"I had heard about this word "perennials," so I said to Michael Schultz, a young landscape designer, "Let's plant a few of those."  That was in 1989; creating this one small area so I could have cut flowers for my office desk was like opening Pandora's box for me.  I was hooked.  Michael started introducing me to designers and nurserymen in the Northwest and ones who would travel to the area.  I liked to cook, and they loved to eat.  Dinner discussions were lively.  They insisted that I learn the correct botanical names before they would talk to me about new plants and where I could get them.  Many a night I would fall asleep with The Royal Horticulture Encyclopedia in bed with me.  My husband asked if I thought I could learn the nomenclature by osmosis if I slept with the book on top of me.
Recently, our whole family hauled sand in buckets to build the play area for our first grandchild.  Upon its completion, we all sat in the sandbox with champagne to toast a good day's work.  My son smiled and reminded me that not so many years ago I had yelled at him for knocking a croquet ball into my perennial border, but now thirty-six square feet of plants and shrubs could be decimated to make way for a one-year-old grandson's sandbox." - Virginia Israelit, Portland, Oregon 
This, to me, is what made this book so unique, and so charming.  Including the garden owner's own words was a bit magical.  It made the gardens personal, and gave the accomplishment of creating a beautiful garden seem achievable.

Each chapter has numerous photos, and while the chapter may cover a specific topic, the gardens in the book vary immensely.  From shady woodlands to sun-filled rose gardens, rustic to modern settings, and Japanese to Mediterranean styles, there is plenty of inspiration for everyone.

It is a book I have read slowly, taking my time, savoring each delightful quote, perusing each inspirational photograph, and digesting the advice in each chapter.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Now it's your turn!  You are invited to join us on the 20th of every month with your own garden book review.  Anyone can join in, and any book with a garden influence qualifies.  We would love to hear your opinion of any garden book, new or old.

If you have never joined a meme before, it's simple!  Write your own garden book review, then just click to enter, and follow the instructions.  I promise - it's easy!

Please visit the other participants, too.  You never know when you're going to find a book you just can't live without!

67 comments:

  1. Looks like a great Garden Book, Holley. I have seen a great magazine this month --but it's not a Gardening one. It's one on the Blue Ridge Parkway... There are so many things to check out along the parkway...

    Enjoy your Garden books.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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    1. Oh, I just love the Blue Ridge Parkway! Such pretty country there. And as you say, so much to check out along the way, too!

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  2. The pergola on the book's cover is beautiful. I look forward to reading the garden book reviews by the bloggers who join this meme. Then I want to buy the books!

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    1. The pergola is what drew me in to buying the book, but amazingly, I think there are much better photos in the book than that one! I, too, want to buy almost every book reviewed! Good thing I'm a fast reader! :)

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  3. I love your review! I've just finished a book by a fellow garden blogger so if it's not to late by the time I've written it up then I'll add the link!

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    1. Oh, I hope you get to add it! It sounds intriguing. Of course, if you don't finish it by then, there's always next month! :)

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  4. I am always looking for the next book to read. You make this one sound wonderful.

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    1. I, too, am always looking for another garden book to read. This one I really did love. I hope you enjoy it, too.

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  5. You are so right about getting a glimpse of the owner. What is more, you can see the love each woman has for her garden.

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    1. That's right! Every garden was just lovely, and the love of gardening really showed - in the photos and in their words.

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  6. Having everyone do a book review is a great idea! Thanks for your wonderful review of this book!

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    1. Christy, I hope you will join us sometime! I love to see what others have read. There are some real jewels out there.

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  7. Sounds wonderful Holley a real treat to the eyes and ears as you read it....

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    1. It was a wonderful read. I know you are going to review a Garden Club of America book next month. I hope it's as good as this book was!

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  8. I love looking at other people's gardens. Sounds like a great book!

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    1. Me, too! It made me want to tour more gardens! :)

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  9. Hi Holley, that sounds like a "must-have-book" to me. I have put the title on my book wish list. Thanks for a wonderful book review!
    Christina

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Christina. I really did. The only thing I didn't like about this book was it was quite large - too big and heavy for me to soak in a tub and read it at the same time! :)

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  10. Holley, That sounds like a book I would love to read. And I love the photo of the pergola. I won't be able to join in the book review this month, other than reading all the great reviews, but I hope to be able to be back next month.

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    1. Dorothy - I completely understand. I just hope you're busy with fun things, like gardening! :) Isn't that pergola wonderful? I could just imagine sitting there under those roses!

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  11. I really like that idea of setting out a design principle and letting the photos show its execution. For me, garden photos tell so much more and are much more inspiring than just reading about design.

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    1. I agree. I love looking at photos, and I enjoyed all the different styles of gardens in this book, too.

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  12. There are books full of information and there are books packed with inspiration. Information is important, but once you know how to plant a tree, for instance, do we really need another explanation? No. But we can ALWAYS use more inspiration. I too love the personal aspect of gardens, meeting the garden creators and discovering the history of the garden and getting a sense of the place. I haven't purchased a garden book for a few years. This is one I might have to buy. :) Great review.

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    1. You're right - we can always use more inspiration! I, too, find photos inspiring, and loved hearing from the gardeners. It doesn't seem like there are 90 gardens in this book, but there are lots of photos in each chapter, so I guess there would have to be a lot to fill up this book!

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  13. Looks like another book I would love! I confess I am drawn more to a garden book's photos than to its writing. Often I will study a photo for ideas but overlook what is said about it! However, from your excerpts from the gardeners' comments, I think this book would be an exception.

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    1. Like you, I love just looking at garden photos. I do like reading about design concepts, etc., but would much rather see more photos than less. This book delivers on the photos!

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  14. I am like Deb too. I go for the books with great photos. They give inspiration and if done well, show the design intent. It looks like a well written book.

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    1. I also really appreciated that they showed all different styles of gardens, too. Something hard to do and still have it flow so cohesively.

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  15. Great review, Holley! I've put it on my list of 'must reads'. P. x

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  16. What a super-sounding book, Holley. I really want to read this. Garden design is so much better understood when real comparisons are made.

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    1. That's true. Some of us can learn by reading descriptions, but it's a lot easier to grasp if there are photo examples. Their inclusion really did enhance the design concept.

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  17. Hmmm, you have enticed me to give this book a look :) What a great idea for a meme, and a great way to spread the word about gardening books.

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    1. I hope you will consider joining in some month! :)

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  18. What a great idea! I'm always looking for new garden books so you've given me a new source for locating good ones. I'll contribute my own reviews when I have a chance.

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    1. I would love for you to join in! And if you're looking for some garden books, I have a page listing all the books that have been reviewed before - I hope you'll check it out!

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  19. Holley, truly, it's very useful book, you're lucky to read and to have it! I've just seen the Landscape Magazine, and thought I need to learn more about landscape design.

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    1. I think landscape design is something that we can always learn more about. Every garden is different, and each one presents different challenges.

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  20. Holley, thank you for alerting me to the Garden Club book. Certainly seems worth reading.

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    1. Glad you joined in, too! I am always on the look out for new garden books to read.

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  21. ooo I have been uncovering and unpacking some of my favorite books!

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    1. How fun! Almost like seeing an old friend again! I hope you'll let us know about some of your favorite garden books, too!

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  22. What a lovely sounding book,those personal stories make such a difference, I find that design-oriented books can lack soul. This one sounds right up my street.

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    1. Yes, it's not a dry instructional type of book. Very well done, in my opinion.

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    1. Definitely a book to make one start dreaming! :)

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  24. I love hearing about good books! I'm a book junkie!
    Brenda

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    1. Me, too, Brenda! I know I have more than I need, but I keep buying more!

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  25. Ah, yet another one for my growing wish list! I love that the gardeners sound so passionate. The gardens in some garden books can seem too...done up--as if the owners paid a lot of money to professionals, for something that looks impressive, and not like they fell asleep over the Royal Horticulture Encyclopedia, dreaming of plants!

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    1. Isn't that a fun story? I love that they made her learn all the latin names of the plants. She really wanted to learn, too! That's true passion!

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  26. Darn I missed your previous entry about pretty sad. But, read it. My broccoli's get eaten by my animal friends :-). I would like this book as it contains personal anecdotes - that's what I miss in most garden books. They are teaching as if they are teaching math - step 1, step 2, etc. I want the personal feeling with each instruction and photo and story.

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    1. You are right. Instructions can be very helpful, but for a good book to curl up with, personal stories are best!

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  27. Your garden book looks very enticing - I'll have to see if I can track it down at the library!

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    1. I hope they have it! And I hope you enjoy it!

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  28. You've definitely enticed me with this one! It sounds like a beautiful book with some practical tips--the best kind of garden book! I will be joining in next month with another great John Muir book. (I'm a little hooked--such a fascinating life!)

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    1. I know how it is to get hooked on a particular story. And John Muir sounds like a fun man to get hooked on! :)

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  29. I did not make it with a review this month, but wanted to stop in and check out some of the reviews.
    I like it when gardeners speak for themselves through quotes. I try to get the gardeners that I feature on my own blog to give me quotes, but too often they are shy or hesitant. Do they fear judgement or getting something wrong? I am not sure. Including a gardeners own words makes a book more personal and I appreciate that. This sounds like a great book Holley.

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    1. Oh, Jennifer, I do think that the quotes would bring a little more personality to those beautiful gardens you feature in your posts. I wish they would let you. Perhaps, while you're talking, you could casually ask "can I include that in my post? I loved the way you said that!" Maybe you've already tried that, but I can't imagine them saying no to someone as sweet as you!

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  30. Holley, I like the premise of this book a lot..is it your favorite or most recommended for garden design?

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    1. Too late, I ordered it...look really good.

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    2. Well, Janie, I hope you love it! My very favorite book is "Art of the Formal Garden". I've done a review on it here: http://dreamingofroses.blogspot.com/2012/03/march-2012-garden-book-reviews.html

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    3. I bought the book Holley...I loved, loved loved, the Minnesota one with all the trees and the "star" chandelliers.....

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    4. I'm so glad you're enjoying the book! There were so many photos, and so many different garden ideas in there that got my creative juices flowing! I hope you can incorporate some of the ideas into your own garden. :)

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  31. This looks like a great read...I like the fact that the layout mimics a real garden tour. I'll have to check this one out! :)

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    1. It was fun to imagine seeing your own garden as if on a tour, and each aspect of the garden was revealed a little at a time. I hope you enjoy it.

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  32. I always enjoy these "book reports" because I learn about garden books I might have otherwise missed. Many thanks.

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    1. That's how I feel! I love learning about what other gardeners think of a book - and finding books I would have missed otherwise! So glad you enjoy it, too. :)

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