John Brookes Garden
Masterclass John Brookes. 2002. DK
Publishing. hardcover, 352pp.
One of the top garden designers in the world today, this
well-known British author summarizes in words, sketches, and photos
over 40 years of landscape experiences. This book undoubtedly
covers the material from his courses in England, the Americas, and
Japan with his designs, and those of contemporaries, as examples.
The eleven chapters each cover a design element, such as
setting--harmonizing the garden with its environment, or
direction--adding movement to the design. The extensive photos
are worthy of the finest coffee tables just for browsing and
inspiration, yet when studied can provide details even the smallest
gardener could implement simply and affordably.
As some examples on the ideas illustrated, as well as secondary ideas,
under the chapter on surfaces is shown a sidewalk of wood ties, filled
between with rounded gravel. Yet the further ideas one can see
are the regularly spaced clumps of a weeping grass to soften the edges,
add continuity, and the overhead arches of a trellis and vine to define
the space. From similar steps of wooden beams for risers, the
horizontal levels filled with gravel, one can see the sides flanked and
softened with lady's mantle. The bottom corners have box shrubs, the
top corners stone containers and a gazing globe.
While most design texts treat plant traits such as form and texture,
and how these can be combined using design principles such as
repetition and balance, this author looks at design differently in his
chapters. After setting as mentioned above is shape--creating the
skeleton of a garden. Following direction as already mentioned is
levels--changing levels in the garden and contours. Enclosure is
about designing sheltered areas and boundaries. House and garden
entrances are discussed and illustrated. After surface as
mentioned above, structures are illustrated including arbors, loggias,
and garden outbuildings. In planting he shows combinations of
flowers, shrubs, and trees. Natural and formal pools are
illustrated. Finally ideas are shown for selecting furniture,
lighting, and garden ornaments, in other words creating style.
Although one can get ideas on novel uses of plants and combinations
from this book, it is primarily about design. The author
introduces the book with his interest in the art of design rather than
the craft of horticulture. Emphasized throughout is the setting
of the garden, how is it part of the surrounding environment. He closes
the description of his own voyage of discovery of garden design with
the current site-specific emphasis of top garden designers.
"Watch out, there's a new mood about among the new school of landscape
designers, which has very little to do with plant material, at first
glance, but everything to do with the nature of landscape and how the
garden fits into its surroundings."