Garden Design Comes to Apartment Therapy

The Gardenist

I’m all sorts of wound up right now. This is my first Apartment Therapy post and it is throwing me into a tizzy. Sure, I’ve had my own blog for nearly 3 years now, but this is something else. I feel singly charged with helping every reader here step over their threshold and (if you haven’t already) start to see the design world that exists on the other side. Yep. I’m talking about garden design.

What do you know about garden design? A lot? A Little? Never really thought about it?

Well if there is one truth about garden design, It’s that EVERY person, has at least one mental picture of a landscape or garden that they a inexplicably drawn to; a place whereby just looking at a picture of it will give them a greater sense of calm.

These are mine. (images 1-4) They all look like the could be the same place don't they? (but they aren’t). You quickly just got a sense of what speaks to my soul, right? I keep these in a special folder where I can quickly find them when I need to.

So there you have it, my first lesson in garden design. If you want to create a treasured place, figure out what sparks you; find that picture that makes you yearn to be there. Then download it, make a copy of it, swipe it if you have to, and put it someplace where you can revisit it, savor it, and enjoy it, and when you are ready to make a garden, you can emulate it.

In any considered endeavor, it always helps to know what’s new and worth considering. In addition to keeping you inspired, I also see it is as my job to keep you 'garden' up-to-date. There are some big trends in the landscape world right now; growing food, being environmentally smart and sensitive, and reduce, reuse recycle are (in my estimate) the biggest.

I spend quite a lot of time reading. These last few weeks have been a marathon and my eyes are burning. The garden book business seems to have reached a fever pitch with excellent new releases. My current favorites represent the best in each of the big garden design trends.

On the food growing front, "The Edible Front Yard", by Ivette Soler, (you might remember her as The Germinatrix from her Domino Magazine days) offers step-by-step instructions for turning your front yard into a beautiful, edible garden. She not only includes information for growing handsome vegetables, but also dishes design advice on how to make them look a little less utilitarian and a little more lush and lovely.

Energy-Wise Landscape Design” is for those of you who are serious about greening up your grounds. While this is an attractive book, it is not stuffed with pretty fluffy images. Author Sue Reed has created a serious read where, among other things, you will learn about situating your house for the most efficient landscape cooling and heating, designing ecosystems, water efficiency, solar, wind, water, and geothermal energy, and even how to plant a thriving wildflower meadow.

On the lighter side, if you are looking for budget friendly ideas to turn trash into garden treasure, you will probably find inspiration in “The Revolutionary Yardscape: Ideas for Repurposing Local Materials to Create Containers, Pathways, Lighting, and More”. Mathew Levesque is a pioneer in the art of using recycled materials in cutting-edge garden design. He is the program director at the nonprofit San Francisco company Building Resources and the Red Shovel Glass Company and in this book he shares unique ideas for creating typical garden features from atypical materials. It’s truly an original.

A writer friend warned me that it might take a few months to work out the direction of this column. She might be right, but I hate that idea. I’m impatient, so here is the scoop. Just like today, I am going to continue to use this space to fill your heads with a weekly round up of interesting and inspiring tidbits from the garden design world. And on top of that, I am going to try to pull together some mind blowing green-gardeney DIY projects and some garden tours every so often. But I want to know what you would like. Can you help me figure out the program? What do you yearn to know and what would you love to see?

I’m all ears.

Images 1. Wij Tradgardar 2. ogrody 3. Gilly Brown 4. Hershberger Design 5 -7 Book Covers courtesy of Timber Press and Sue Reed.