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The Authentic Garden

Articles: The Authentic Garden

As author Richard Hartlage states in the introduction to The Authentic Garden, “Garden designers all stand on the tilled ground of the practitioners that came before us.” This respect for the vision and experience of landscape professionals—both of the past and today’s creators—is at the heart of this ambitious, lavishly illustrated coffee table-sized book.

The book is organized into thematic chapters that survey six different approaches to garden design—well, actually seven, but I’ll get to that later. And plants are central to them all beginning with “Plants as Architecture.” From the romantic parklands of “Capability” Brown to formal clipped topiaries and avant hedges, the authors examine ways in which designers structure space with woody plants. “Artfully Naturalistic Gardens” covers familiar, even comfortable, content. Although, as they point out, a closer look at cottage gardens, lavish perennial beds, and mixed borders, reveals intricate compositions and a generosity of spirit and pocketbook. “Graphic Planting Design” is defined as using plants in a way that Hartlage and Fischer suggest has more to do with art than traditional planting. Massed, often monocultural, plantin...


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