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
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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.