Garden Wild: Wildflower Meadows, Prairie-Style Plantings, Rockeries, Ferneries, and other Sustainable Designs Inspired by Nature
“the peace and harmony depicted by excellent images of these manufactured gardens by human design and gardeners’ hands remain a beauty to experience, a tranquility to revel in, and not least (because the images are so very pretty) someone’s dream to behold.”
There is a specific market for this type of illustrated outdoor book. Elegant in appearance, clean, enticing images, double page spreads, rich people’s gardens turned over to nature in a deliberately calculated way—the appeal is both artistic and celebratory of those who have the means, money, talent, and desire to transform real nature into a domestic version of nature. Much like Japanese gardens, these transformations no longer actually represent real nature but a constructed facsimile to inspire the viewer to feel in nature.
Is this illusion honest? As Ms. Kalins states, “These photographs have a deceptive naturalness, because each composition, each shaft of light, each deep shadow, leads us deliberately toward a new way of seeing.”
Deceptive, yes, but that does not mean they are false. Nature is there, nature is portrayed, nature is celebrated, nature becomes an icon for what we have, perhaps, lost already. And the photographer is adamant that his intention is to reconnect us to that which we have lost or are losing, “I want to appeal to your emotions through the images . . . to be moved, guided by your intuition and creative spirit, to nurture your own gardens.”
So is this really a gardening book? At times, yes, species and types of plants are identified properly. A panoply of greenery options are presented—as are pathway materials, artistic embellishments, and (because this is after all a book centered on the very wealthiest patrons) luxury architecture suited to the environs (especially roof tops in NYC, or the Hamptons on Long Island, or rural Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, or remote Massachusetts; portrayed are only playgrounds of the very wealthy). That narrow focus does not diminish the beauty of the gardens achieved in such splendor. Of course, if you have no idea what was there before, the notion that this is a how-to create a garden from scratch guide fades into obscurity.
Nevertheless, like a pebble Japanese garden—which is the ultimate exemplar of this type of natural gardening—the peace and harmony depicted by excellent images of these manufactured gardens by human design and gardeners’ hands remain a beauty to experience, a tranquility to revel in and, not least (because the images are so very pretty) someone’s dream to behold.