The Artful Gardener

Rose Thodey and Gil Hanly
Godwit, RRP $59.99
ISBN 978 187631 425 5

The front cover of this book claims that it contains inspirational landscape ideas and by golly it is a fair claim. This is a genuinely inspiring book which lifts garden decoration and ornamentation just so far above the naff, the twee and the cheap and nasty that it is in a completely different league. Gardens are about more than just collections of plants and equally they are about more than good design. They are also about creating different spaces and adding a stamp of originality, delight and sometimes humour or quirkiness. The authors have gathered ideas and top quality images from here in New Zealand and around the world. Yes some are a bit staged (I do not see myself laying a Persian rug in an outdoor seating area), some are rather OTT and not to my personal taste and some are simply too expensive for our budget, but there are so many ideas that there are styles to suit everybody. There are chapters on entranceways, walls, paving, sculpture, water features and more.

Gil Hanly is our foremost garden photographer in this country and Rose Thodey is an Auckland based garden writer and editor. They have worked together to bring this somewhat lavish book (288 pages and over 450 colour photographs) put together in a coherent sequence.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book, especially for thinking gardeners who are refining their own styles and tastes. Those of us who err on the under-stated and modest side when it comes to garden ornamentation and features can find much of interest. Those who lean more to the lavish or flamboyant will equally find inspiration. With our tradition of open gardens in Taranaki (we have done it on a larger scale over a longer time period than any other area in the country), we have many gardeners who are constantly looking and thinking about ways to improve their garden presentation and create their own stamp of individuality. This is a good book to have and easily the best New Zealand book we have seen in this category.