All you need to know about The Garden: Elements and Styles

Our beautiful new book is the quintessential reference guide to garden design, its rich history, and the creative art of horticulture
Share
The Garden
The Garden

You don’t have to know your ha-ha from your trellis, nor your dibber from your hoe, to take some enjoyment from a horticultural landscape, but to truly, deeply understand and appreciate a garden, almost everyone would benefit from our new book, The Garden: Elements and Styles.

Subtitled Elements and Styles, this new volume is an incredible, A-to-Z compendium of more than 200 horticultural styles, elements and treatments, from gardeners across the globe. Written by the internationally acclaimed scholar, garden expert and historian Toby Musgrove (who also authored Phaidon’s best-selling title, The Gardener’s Garden), this new title takes in an incredibly wide-range of man-made landscapes, from the arboretums of England to the islands of Norway; the Art Nouveau glass houses of Vienna, through to the community green spaces in New York.

Flowery Mead. Meadow at Morton Hall, Redditch, Worcestershire, England, UK. Open to the public. Photo: © Clive Nichols. The word ‘mead’ derives from the Old English mæd, meaning a meadow or clearing where animals graze. However, a flowery mead is not a flower meadow but a specific planting style that arose in medieval northern European ornamental gardens
Flowery Mead. Meadow at Morton Hall, Redditch, Worcestershire, England, UK. Open to the public. Photo: © Clive Nichols. The word ‘mead’ derives from the Old English mæd, meaning a meadow or clearing where animals graze. However, a flowery mead is not a flower meadow but a specific planting style that arose in medieval northern European ornamental gardens

In every case, the book sets out, in enlightening, simple, yet educated terms, what certain horticultural terms mean, and how they came into being. Read The Garden: Elements and Styles and you’ll learn for example, that an American Garden is not, in fact, the term for US horticultural works, “but rather a feature of British gardens in which was displayed a collection of plants from eastern North America;” You'll also learn that the term conservatory was coined by the English diarist John Evelyn back in the 17th century, to describe “a brick or stone building with large, usually south-facing windows used to ‘conserve’ tender plants during winter”; and you'll learn that “coquillage in a garden context is used to mean a display of shellwork.”

Borrowed Landscape. The garden at Plas Brondanw, Llanfrothen, Gwynedd, in Wales, UK, with a view of Snowdonia. Open to the Public. Photo © Richard Bloom. A borrowed landscape is an element of a garden composition that lies beyond the physical garden confines but which is brought into focus as part of the overall visual experience.
Borrowed Landscape. The garden at Plas Brondanw, Llanfrothen, Gwynedd, in Wales, UK, with a view of Snowdonia. Open to the Public. Photo © Richard Bloom. A borrowed landscape is an element of a garden composition that lies beyond the physical garden confines but which is brought into focus as part of the overall visual experience.

With each entry, The Garden: Elements and Styles illustrates the example with expertly chosen, beautifully reproduced images, that both inform and inspire the reader. There are fine-art garden examples, drawn from Claude Monet and Frida Kahlo’s gardens; architectural influences, including Brutalism and Spanish Colonial Revival. A few entries, for example on Tudor Gardens, offer us fascinating insights into the way plants were once nurtured and displayed.

Xeriscape Garden. Garden at Tiburon, in the San Francisco Bay area of California, USA, a planting scheme by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photo courtesy Arterra Landscape Architects/Michele Lee Willson Photography (page 290) Xero is the Greek word for ‘dry’, and xeriscape is a garden-design style that reduces or eliminates the need for supplementary irrigation or watering
Xeriscape Garden. Garden at Tiburon, in the San Francisco Bay area of California, USA, a planting scheme by Arterra Landscape Architects. Photo courtesy Arterra Landscape Architects/Michele Lee Willson Photography (page 290) Xero is the Greek word for ‘dry’, and xeriscape is a garden-design style that reduces or eliminates the need for supplementary irrigation or watering

Other inclusions are almost how-to guides for ambitious horticulturists, such as this one on The Stumpery, “a nineteenth-century British innovation that combined the desire for a garden to be demonstrably a work of art (rather than an imitation of nature) and the passion for a rustic look and atmosphere. It was commonly created in a shady location within the garden, and comprised a number of large, picturesque tree stumps (including a length of trunk and roots) inserted into earth banks, upside down and close together. The resulting assemblage was festooned with shade-tolerant, trailing plants such as ivy, Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) and Virginia creeper (P. quinquefolia), and the gaps between the stumps planted with shade-tolerant taxa – in particular, and in line with nineteenth-century pteridomania, ferns.” You can almost see it springing to life before your eyes, can't you?

Vista. A view from Windcliff, Indianola, Washington, USA, designed by Dan Hinkley, overlooking Puget Sound to Mount Rainier. Open to the public. Photo: © Claire Takacs. At its simplest, vista means a view, but within a garden setting the definition is more nuanced and applies to a deliberately created and controlled, narrow yet long or distant view; as such, a vista differs from a prospect, which is a panoramic view
Vista. A view from Windcliff, Indianola, Washington, USA, designed by Dan Hinkley, overlooking Puget Sound to Mount Rainier. Open to the public. Photo: © Claire Takacs. At its simplest, vista means a view, but within a garden setting the definition is more nuanced and applies to a deliberately created and controlled, narrow yet long or distant view; as such, a vista differs from a prospect, which is a panoramic view

This heavily indexed book also includes a garden directory for those who would like to continue this journey through global horticulture in person, as well as a further reading list, enabling anyone whose interest is truly piqued to carry on the adventure.

The Garden: Elements and Styles is a wonderful book for dedicated agriculturalists, interested to find out how their chosen interest fits into a greater story of art history and cultural development. More casual garden visitors and plant tinkerers will be emboldened by the way Musgrove’s authoritative, clear texts fill in knowledge gaps, and place half-familiar features within a more rigorous context.

Yet anyone with a professional or personal perspective on art, design or contemporary culture will enjoy discovering how gardens and gardening fit into a greater, global narrative.  Indeed, if you’ve ever stood in a man-made, natural environment, drunk in the beauty, but not quite understood how it all came about, then The Garden: Elements and Styles is for you too. To find out more and order your copy go here.



ABOUT PHAIDON

Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
Read more