The Authentic Garden: Five Principles for Cultivating a Sense of Place

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Timber Press, 2007 - Gardening - 285 pages
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American gardeners have tended to turn to other national traditions--such as Italy's, Japan's, or England's--for inspiration. The unhappy result of this piecemeal sytlistic borrowing has been the creation of gardens that bear no relationship to local landscapes and history, and that have no connection with our daily lives. In this cogently reasoned and persuasively argued volume, Claire Sawyers aims to show how this tendency can be reversed: how we can create gardens that are both deeply rooted in their surroundings and deeply satisfying to their creators and owners.
Drawing upon her knowledge of a vast array of American and foreign gardens, Sawyers explores five principles that help instill a sense of authenticity: Capture the sense of place Derive beauty from function Use humble or indigenous materials Marry the inside to the outside Involve the visitor She begins by explaining how careful observation of a site's unique characteristics enables the gardener to shape the garden appropriately and how the essential, functional features associated with gardens--driveways, mailboxes, fences, and the like--can, if treated simply and elegantly, be a visual asset rather than a liability. Later, she demonstrates the American version of the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi: the use of indigenous, natural, or even recycled materials to create a mood of casualness and intimacy, and discusses the many ways--including paths, the presence of inviting furniture, and the use of tactile elements--of drawing the visitor into the garden. A final chapter profiles outstanding American gardens that epitomize the five principles of authentic garden making.
Practical and inspiring, "The Authentic Garden" will enable the reader to make a garden that is true to a specific time, place, and culture; to capture and reflect an authentic spirit so that the garden, in turn, will nurture the spirit of those who cherish and dwell in it.

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The authentic garden: five principles for cultivating a sense of place

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The "authentic" gardening style of a particular country takes centuries to develop. America, being relatively young, has looked to other countries such as Japan, England, and France for inspiration ... Read full review

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As the director of the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College, Claire Sawyers generalized her many years of international and domestic landscape design experience and her extensive horticultural knowledge in "The Authentic Garden: Five Principles for Cultivating A Sense of Place." What are authentic gardens? They are "gardens that are both deeply rooted in their surroundings and deeply satisfying to their creators and owners." They are gardens that are "true to a specific time, place and culture." Claire Sawyers described five principles to create authentic gardens: capture the sense of place (or "Genius Loci," a popular term to landscape architecture students and designers), derive beauty from function ("form follows function"), use humble or indigenous materials (sustainable and local materials), marry the inside to the outside (treat a building and its garden as different parts of the same overall design), and involve the visitor (user participation). These are timeless, universal principles that are common to architecture, landscape architecture and urban design and planning. Claire Sawyers also used the fine works by some famous designers like Edith Roberts, Elsa Rehmann, Frank Lloyd Wright to demonstrate how these principles can be used in garden design. "The Authentic Garden: Five Principles for Cultivating A Sense of Place" has 288 pages and many fine interior color photographs. It is a great design book for landscape architecture students and seasoned design professionals! Copyright 2007 Gang Chen, author of "Planting Design Illustrated"  


Derive Beauty from Function
The pitfalls of ornamentation without function Fences and walls Driveways

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About the author (2007)

Claire Sawyers is director of the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College.

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