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Understanding Garden Design: The Complete Handbook for Aspiring Designers Hardcover – August 18, 2010
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A former interior designer who embarked on a second career in landscape planning, Nagel bemoaned the dearth of resource material necessary for her new endeavor. Knowing that nature abhors just such a vacuum, Nagel fashioned a guide to her own specifications. Starting with the basics, Nagel ventures from concept to completion in a logical sequence, covering topics many other design manuals overlook. Not only does she pay particular attention to the intangible aspects of the design process, such as a garden’s effects on physical health and mental attitude, she also delves into the practical side of landscape projects, from spatial allowances for patio furniture to working with contractors. Along with essentials such as traffic flow, focal points, and sun exposure, Nagel also provides thoughtful coverage of secondary, but no less important, topics such as hardscape, furnishings, and ornamentation. Thorough and thoroughly accessible, Nagel’s reasoned yet personable approach to an often intimidating subject will benefit both homeowners and design professionals. --Carol Haggas
“Thorough and thoroughly accessible, Nagel’s reasoned yet personable approach to an often intimidating subject will benefit both homeowners and design professionals.” —Booklist
“An excellent guide for beginning home garden designers as well as students in the field.” —Library Journal
“For aspiring designers, Nagel, a commercial interior designer who became a landscape designer, details the process of garden design. Using photos and diagrams, she explains aspects like documenting the site, lighting, working with contractors, components of a garden, irrigation, finishes and furnishings, plants, and basic design principles.” —Book News
“Everything you need to consider is here.” —Green Bay Press-Gazette
“A wonderful handbook for anyone to own.” —Garden Design Online
“Details the process of garden design. . . and basic design principles.” —SciTech Book News
“Nagel has opened a window into the processes of our closest allies in our professional endeavors.” —Williams Landscape Lighting Design
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The most helpful part of the book for me preceded that; it discussed how to assess the landscape and what you need from it. This is something I discovered when I tried to map out my house. It sounds stupid, you should just grab a measuring tape right? But what about slopes? How do you measure door thickness? Do you account for trim? Just how thick are my walls? Do I measure clockwise or counter clockwise around the room? Why is this not lining up? How much space should I allocate for the new tub? How about walking around the tub? All of this becomes even more difficult outside where things are no longer nice rectangular boxes.
Thumbing through the various books at the hardware store I was unsatisfied with all of them, I'm glad I went with this one first. It seems rather thin and isn't stuffed with pretty pictures but it takes you through designing a garden from before you start to after the contractors are gone in a organized, clear, and unrepetiative manner. I value the quality of a book's text above all else, and I could not be more satisfied with my purchase.
And so begins one of the most useful books I've yet found for the novice, or even advanced, Landscape Lighting Designer. The author, Vanessa Gardner Nagel, has drawn on her focused study and practice of Interior Design, a later deep exploration of Landscape Design, and a particularly illuminating "light bulb" moment to guide her writing. Mrs. Nagel "saw the light" when she realized that all the books on landscape design begin with a discussion of the Principles Of Design without addressing the much deeper question, "Why Design?"
In my Amazon review of Jan Moyer's 2nd edition of the Landscape Lighting Book I noted, "Once you understand the theory behind the short cuts and rules-of-thumb that other How-To books offer, you are free to create your own. With the freedom you gain when you understand and can apply those fundamental principals and concepts to your landscape lighting, you become like the cook who ignores the printed recipe and creates a masterpiece of culinary art."
I believe UNDERSTANDING GARDEN DESIGN offers a second route into our exploration of landscape lighting design; a deeper understanding of the processes and goals of our fellow professional colleagues who visualize and create the spaces we light. In authoring a book that focused on "Understanding" the why behind landscape design, Nagel has opened a window into the processes of our closest allies in our professional endeavors. When we are able to understand and appreciate what the Landscape Designer's intentions were, we become fully informed and potentially more creative Designers of Light.
THE BONUS CHAPTER for all landscape lighting designers, experienced and novice, is Chapter 9: Garden Lighting. Her chapter on Landscape Lighting is the most lucid introduction to the craft I've found yet. During my second review of my copy of her text, I realized I had previously penciled in numerous !!s and smiley faces. There is good stuff for all of us in this book.