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The Artful Garden: Creative Inspiration for Landscape Design Hardcover – February 1, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A revolutionary pioneer of the naturalistic New American Garden style, van Sweden (Architecture in the Garden) explains how gardeners can glean inspiration and borrow effective techniques from the arts. Whether the muse is painting or jazz, mystery novels or modern dance, van Sweden offers practical advice on how thoughtful examination can help the amateur gardener understand and control color, line, volume, light, and movement in the garden. He encourages the gardener to think in terms of composition, orchestration, rhythm, and pattern, and shows how these are employed successfully in his own award-winning gardens. One need not be a connoisseur to benefit from this advice. Less important than whether one has cultivated taste is whether one can understand why one's preferences are personally appealing. Van Sweden offers straightforward advice for translating that idiosyncratic understanding into an assured garden design. Particularly illuminating are his conversations with artists, including painter Robert Dash and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, about how their artistic visions find expression in their private gardens. Like the author's classic Bold Romantic Gardens, this is a refreshing, innovative source of inspiration. 98 photos. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

The nexus between lasting art and landscape architecture is not as amorphous as one might think. Whether it’s the music found in the rustling of ornamental grasses or the rhythm in the way colors repeat across a mixed border, the same principles that inform each artistic genre can, and should, according to van Sweden, be applied to the equally creative art of garden design. One of the founders of the contemporary style known as the “New American Garden,” van Sweden brings his own passion for art in all forms to bear when contemplating new commissions, and encourages homeowners searching for fresh ideas to look no further than their local art gallery or CD collection for similar inspiration. As he illustrates the way sculptor Henry Moore’s negative use of space can be translated to the shaping of garden beds or how artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s majestic use of color can influence the selection of perennials, van Sweden imparts a distinctive approach to garden design in this impassioned and insightful examination. --Carol Haggas
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400063892
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400063895
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.8 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Some may really like this book and disagree with the low rating.
Beendare
In this book James van Sweden challenges the reader to go beyond basic garden design and to consider garden creation as an art form voyage of discovery.
Russell E Johnson
If you love graphic art, you'll be captured by his vision of landscape design with plants offering the color, texture and palate for artist expression.
Mary Jane Swedberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ohmi on March 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everything about "The Artful Garden" is fabulous. The layout and illustrations are beautiful and the prose is easy to understand and full of awesome ideas. This is a must read for anyone interested in landscaping/creative gardening.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. Mellor on June 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a how-to garden design book. Rather, it is much more exciting - the process behind "a voyage of discovery" in which you "turn your dreams loose". To this end after an introduction in which the author spells out his raison d'etre, he considers in separate chapters space and form - in which he introduces the concepts of positive and negative space such that all material is removed so that it reduces to "that form designed in the artist's mind" - light and shadow, making the scene, rhythm and movement, texture, and layering for mystery and enticement.
The creative process is not viewed in terms of the garden alone. Rather, parallels are drawn with painting, sculpture, photography, literature and music. Not, I would add to show how clever the author is. Instead he uses examples to illustrate and clarify the point he is making. To this end he has interviewed and includes excerpts from the interviews of sculptor Robert Adzema, painter Roberty Dash, landsape architects Lawrence and Anna Halprin, the musician Yo Yo Ma and landscape architect Julie Moir Messervy who emphasises the importance of feeling to those of form and function, plantsman and landscape architect Piet Oudolf, fabric artist and designer Jack Lenor Larsen and landscape architect Martha Schwartz. Partially to reveal the result of the creative process he makes reference to a number of gardens, especially his own garden at Ferry Cove on Maryland's eastern shore and another home in upstate New York.
This is a book that will cause you to reflect on the process of creation long after you have put the book back on to the shelf.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By allanbecker-gardenguru on May 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Artful Garden: Creative Inspiration for Landscape Design
The theme of this beautifully written and breathtakingly illustrated book is that great garden design may be enriched when it references and embraces creative elements that are found in the plastic and performing arts.

Such a phenomenon is called synergy in industry and in horticulture it is metaphorically referred to as hybrid vigor. It represents a cumulative result that is superior to the sum of its parts and explains the cross fertilization that sometimes takes place between two artistic disciplines. As composers collaborate with choreographers and sculptors are inspired by painters, the resulting works are often richer and more powerful than what might have been created alone. Extending this metaphor to garden design, the authors suggest that the inspiration derived from the arts can raise a landscape to a higher level, making it more creative, and more meaningful.

According to Mr. Van Sweden, a garden may be likened to a painting because it can be described as a two dimensional depiction. It is also similar to a sculpture because it is a space through which the eye moves. There is a third dimension to a garden because it is constantly in motion due to seasonal change and rhythmic repetition. In that respect, it is similar to music and dance. However, because nature controls the pace of that change, an element of unpredictability is inherent in any garden - and that is its mystery

In planning landscapes of any size, the reader is boldly advised not to rely upon "horticultural rules of thumb and clichés" as these produce "passionless mediocre results".
Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Phipps on March 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is James Van Sweden's best book to date. He explains, very well, how he uses art in his design process. My favorite parts were the personal anecdotes, some quite humorous.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Talula Tabbouleh on March 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On a first read, I was pretty disappointed in this book. On a second read, I can see how some of the ideas would be helpful. I think I was hoping this book would be on a scale that a small gardener could use, but the book seems mostly aimed at people who have a lot of money to completely redo their landscape, and there are fewer pictures of gardens than I would have liked. The text does not take up as much room on the page as it could, so the book has a lot of "white space" versus other garden books. Most of the pictures feature art IN the garden rather than demonstrating applications of how to apply inspiration from art, as the title suggests. In short, not enough instruction, not enough that's directly applicable to a home gardener, and too few pictures for me.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Russell E Johnson on April 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this beautiful book James van Sweden considers garden design as a four dimensional art form. He starts by considering three dimensional space and form giving special attention to the importance of negative space. He then incorporates the forth dimension of time as he considers light and shadow and the constantly changing garden experience from moment to moment and season to season. He incorporates a painters eye as he discusses concepts of color, pattern, unity and beauty in creating a painterly garden composition using paintings of highly differing styles to illustrate the concepts dicussed. He continues by considering rhythm and movement into garden design gaining inspiration from music and dance. He continues with a discussion of the use texture in the garden to create the illusion of depth incorporating textiles, fabric sculpture and other art forms in the discussion. He concludes with the use of layering to create an element mystery and suspense into the garden.

The challenge for any gardener is to organize the myriad of elements that one must consider in garden design into a coherent whole. In this book James van Sweden challenges the reader to go beyond basic garden design and to consider garden creation as an art form voyage of discovery. He has written a wonderful book that will excite and inspire you to begin or continue your journey. Bon voyage!
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