Elements of Garden Design

Joe Eck

North Point Press



Trade Paperback

192 Pages



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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 such as 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. With a new preface by Wayne Winterrowd and new chapters addressing such subjects as creating pet-friendly garden, Elements of Garden Design will provide the amateur and the professional alike with food for thought and down-on-the-ground advice on matters from foundation plantings to utility areas and garden materials.


Praise for Elements of Garden Design

"There is no other work on design that I would so unhesitatingly recommend to novice and experienced gardeners alike."—Tom Fischer, former editor of Horticulture magazine

"Rather than presenting 101 landscape tips, Joe Eck truly identifies and examines—not just 'what should be,' but what could be. He helps readers visualize the possibilities and identify the ideas that match their garden's spirit."—Ken Druse, author of The Passion for Gardening

"Articulate and thought-provoking—the strength of Eck's writing comes from its basis in practice, for in actually creating a designed landscape that works, Eck has no equal in America."—Daniel J. Hinkley, author of The Explorer's Garden and founder of Heronswood Nursery

"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."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Elements of Garden Design
Part ITheory 
IntentionLike all the arts, gardening must be guided by an intention. For many, that intention will be to recreate some other garden, one that seems, from childhood memory or adult experience, ideally beautiful. For others, nature will be the model, and the garden, on a smaller scale, will exist to remind them of a natural landscape--an alpine meadow, a field of wildflowers, or a shady woodland walk. But many of us, in making our gardens, are guided less by examples in the mind than by a simple passion for plants. And although all gardeners
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  • Joe Eck

  • Joe Eck is cofounder of the garden design firm North Hill, and coauthor of A Year at North Hill and Living Seasonally. He lives in Vermont.