Wild: The Naturalistic Garden
Phaidon, £39.95 ISBN 978-1838661052
At the start of my career, I went on a gardening tour of Europe, armed with a list of recommended gardens to visit drawn from a blog written by Noel Kingsbury. These gardens – Piet Oudolf’s Hummelo, Cassian Schmidt’s plantings at Hermannshof, and the Dutch ‘Heem’ or habitat parks – had a profound influence on my development as a designer.
This book showcases gardens across the globe, that when viewed together form an inspirational picture of ‘wild’, ecologically informed gardening ‘now’. What’s different and special about this compilation is that there is consistency in both vision and voice. Each location has its own unique take on the wild gardening aesthetic, yet the eye of the photographer, Claire Takacs, and insightful description and commentary by writer Noel Kingsbury is consistent.
Crucially this not only makes the book but also helps the reader draw links and comparisons between the different gardens. Takacs is an artist who can intuitively predict the transitions of sunlight. Yet it is the consistency of her eye that is important. You could have a compilation featuring many different accomplished photographers and writers and it would inevitably be disjointed in voice and view.
Kingsbury’s observations have been condensed into succinct descriptions that are easy to read but by no means ‘lite’. Each case study offers insights into the practical challenges, the design, history and cultural nuances of naturalistic plantings, with tantalising pointers for further research.
It’s moving to read how many different garden makers have poured passion into making ‘wild’ plantings. For some it’s a personal journey, other examples are in public – Sheffield’s exemplary ‘Grey to Green’ City Garden has transformed a traffic-dominated central thoroughfare into a series of linear rain gardens, as attractive to pedestrians as to pollinators.
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