The Principles of Garden Design

The Principles of Garden Design, eBook by Tom TurnerI had an idea for a book on the principles of garden design about 20 years ago. The publishers I offered it to (Mitchel Beazley, Francis Lincoln and Conran Octopus) each invited to me meet them and said it was a ‘very interesting idea’. But they did not sign me up and the idea went on the back burner. Some of the content went into the final section of City as landscape (Spon 1998) and when the idea returned to the boil in 2008 I decided to do an eBook. It is now available under the Gardenvisit.com imprint: The Principles of Garden Design, Tom Turner (ISBN 978-0-9542306-2-3, 45 pages, 130 illustrations, 2008). Comments would be most welcome and journalists can request review copies.

The basis of the book is that Garden Design is much subject to the Vitruvian principles as any other field of design, though they need to be adapted. In short:

  • Gardens should be beautiful
  • Gardens should be useful
  • Gardens should be well made with good materials

These points are discussed with 130 illustrations and I am puzzled as to why they are not already embedded in the literature of garden design. Idle chat about ‘year round interest’, a ‘blaze of colour’, ‘focal points’, ‘specimen plants’, ‘water features’ etc is all very well – but it is no substitute for having a firm grasp of the principles of garden design. To draw an analogy with cooking, we can say that an over-reliance on recipes is no substitute for a grasp of the principles: use good materials, don’t overcook, take care with the sequence of dishes.

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