Garden Gear - Gardening Books

Book Review: Classic Garden Features

Classic Garden Features
by David Stuart
Conran Octopus Limited, 160 pages, hardcover, $52.95.

Garden enthusiasts of here and now often grumble at “old world” experts harping on about the gardens of there and then; the style, the scale and the budget seem completely irrelevant to today's time- and cash-strapped gardener.

In his new book, Classic Garden Features, David Stuart steers mercifully clear of such tiresome proselytizing. While he clearly loves the historic and antique, he brings a designer's analytical perspective to the theme, suggesting that the lessons of “the classic” are timelessly relevant. Through a rich mix of photographs and pithy text, he persuasively demonstrates that understanding a garden's components is fundamental to good design.

In each chapter Stuart addresses a type of garden feature, sets them in historical and cultural contexts, then discusses their varieties and uses. He provides insight into how these static, manmade and seasonless elements bring essential form, focus and style to the planted scene.

Each photograph is accompanied by a generous caption that explains why and how a feature works within a particular garden-something that is often difficult for the non-trained eye to grasp. Stuart demonstrates the importance of symbiotic relationships, with each element complementing the other.This is a book for neophyte and connoisseur, for dipping or devouring and definitely for learning some useful lessons. It reminds us that garden style has been passed round the globe to be interpreted by countless generations, nationalities and cultures.
-Penny Arthurs

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