Beautifully illustrated books continue to be among the best ways to keep up with the latest trends in landscape design. Several new favorites of mine cover a wide range of landscape-related topics — and offer the opportunity to view the world from the comfort of your armchair.
•“Hamptons Gardens,” by Jack deLashmet (Assouline, 2011, $150), is about the communities of farmers and fishermen that were founded more than 350 years ago on the easternmost reaches of Long Island, N.Y. The Hamptons include about 12 individual hamlets and villages with some of the most expensive real estate in the country. The author, a landscape designer, discusses residents’ desire to maintain gardens on their estates. Well-known landscape architects and designers have practiced their art in this pocket of wealth; the book features the work of Russell Page; Edwina von Gal; Oehme, van Sweden; and Miranda Brooks. Styles range from sustainable native gardens to minimalist, manicured landscapes and meandering meadows.
DeLashmet’s interpretations of these gardens are well-written and offer hundreds of ideas for your landscape design. With the exception of well-publicized Grey Gardens, emphasis is placed on gardens that have not been written about extensively and toured regularly by the public.
The 155 color illustrations are magnificent with the text outlining the impetus influencing the landscape professionals. They offer a window into how the pros worked with their clients to ensure that the designs reflected the clients’ desires. You can use this beautiful 268-page coffee-table hardcover to discover how some of the best-known landscape designers in the world decide what elements will make their work shine.
The author is donating 100 percent of his royalties to God’s Love We Deliver, a provider of nutritious, individually tailored meals to people who are ill and unable to shop or cook for themselves.
•“American Eden: From Monticello to Central Park to Our Backyards: What Our Gardens Tell Us About Who We Are,” by Wade Graham (Harper Collins, 2011, $35). Although the title implies that it’s a history going back to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home, built in the late 1700s, the book actually goes back over a century earlier to the styles that influenced Jefferson and his contemporaries. Graham goes into great detail about Jefferson’s influence on a distinctly American style and generally considers him as the developer of our earliest garden designs.
The author describes subsequent periods in American garden design, including the arts-and-crafts garden, which lasted from about 1850 to 1945. Hedges, pergolas draped in vines, stucco walls and handcrafted lamps and finials defined much of this period.
This 459-page collection of landscape design history in this country is enjoyable reading. It is well researched, posing an interesting historic tie from the past to the present.
•“The Living Garden: A Place That Works With Nature,” by Jane Powers (Frances Lincoln Limited, 2011, $35), begins by explaining ways the natural world takes care of itself. The balance of nature is a well-ordered system, cyclical and reliable. It is only in about the past 20 years that most humans have understood that this cycle is driven by billions of living and dying organisms all playing a part in the health of our planet.
The author illustrates the importance of this balance among plants, wildlife and people. She describes the simple example of a plant’s growth, its demise, composting and return to the soil to add nourishment for the next generation of life. Water is an integral part of this process, as are recycling cans, bottles and milk cartons for container planting, stone for walkways, and bales of straw for compost bins that will decay in time, themselves providing compost.
This 216-page hardcover guide also covers garden planning and is illustrated with more than 100 high-quality color images.
•“Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean,” by Margaret Gajek and Derek Galon (Ozone Zone Books, 2010. Includes an audio CD, “The Sounds of the Eastern Caribbean.” $37.95), just won the prestigious Silver Nautilus 2011 international book award. Galon’s brilliant photography captures the pride Caribbean people have in their gardens. The text, written by Gajek, an art historian, describes the atmosphere of the eastern Caribbean.
Barbados Coconut Growers Garden is the first stop, where the authors discuss the banana and coconut crops grown there. Redland Plantation, once a sugar plantation, has been renovated and transformed into an organic fruit and vegetable farm. Photographs show the variety of flora planted in the designed gardens and artistic structures.
This 288-page hardcover uses English and French throughout to transport you to the Caribbean.
Joel M. Lerner is president of Environmental Design in Capitol View Park.