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The Authentic Garden: Five Principles for Cultivating a Sense of Place

Articles: The Authentic Garden: Five Principles for Cultivating a Sense of Place

America and her citizens have been described as bold, inventive, exploratory and independent. Such strong attitudes and personality attributes have helped place us at the forefront of the world’s economic, political, and technological frontiers; yet, aesthetically, we remain copy cats, borrowing heavily from the older and more established cultures of both Europe and Asia. This tradition, or perhaps a lack of a mature cultural ethic, is especially obvious in the garden. Claire Sawyers, in her new book, The Authentic Garden, Five Principles for Cultivating a Sense of Place, confronts the subject and issues a call, a “plea” in her words, for gardeners “to learn from the great gardens of the world and extract their lessons rather than mimic their look.”

Sawyers spent six years of her youth living in Japan and returned to work with Japanese landscapers in the course of her undergraduate studies in ornamental horticulture at Purdue University. It was the repeated requests in the US from many of her early design clients for a “Japanese garden,” something she found geographically confusing and of little interest, that prompted her thinking about the lack of a distinct American gardening...

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