Elements of Garden Design does what few gardening books do--it addresses the process of conceiving a whole garden, as opposed to a single element like color or a particular class of plant. Joe Eck explores the idea of a garden, and offers a practical approach to translating concepts such as "intention" and "harmony" into the solid forms of hedges and terraces, paths and rooms. Novice and experienced professional alike will find both food for thought and down-on-the-ground advice on such matters as creating child- and pet-friendly designs.
Written for serious gardeners at any level of expertise, these thoughtful essays transcend the how-to genre and speak rather to the fine art of gardening as Eck defends his ``argument'' that ``what defines a garden is less what is grown in it than how what grows is arranged.'' Drawn from a series of articles Eck wrote in the early 1990s for Horticulture magazine, the book is divided into two sections, ``Theory'' and ``Practice,'' covering such principles as "Scale," "Structure" and "Symmetry," along with more concrete topics, e.g., "Lawns and Ground Covers," "Water in the Garden" and "Utility Areas." In the chapter entitled "Repose," for instance, Eck explores ways to achieve this quality in a garden, whether through a balance of mown grass against a border, the repetition of elements or the creation of a secluded corner. Eck, who coauthored A Year at North Hill with Wayne Winterrowd, writes a formal, elegant prose illuminated by wisdom gleaned from years of experience and sparked with flashes of dry wit. Inviting serious study as well as browsing, this volume deserves a spot on any dedicated gardener's shelf.