New Garden Design, Inspiring Private Paradises

by Zahid Sardor and Marion Brenner

This book was written for and about Californian gardens, especially those in Northern California. I’ll tell you that, right off the top. This is not to say that gardeners from other locales can take nothing away from reading this book, because there are components of it that transcend place, but by and large it will have little that Midwestern or Northeastern gardeners may utilize for their own, directly.

It is an artistic book, with large well-done photographs, masterful plant combinations and sculptural details both in hardscaping and garden placed art objects. For all gardeners there are inspirations in situating sculpture in the garden, giving sense of place, flights of whimsy, and creating your own stamp on your landscape. The landscapes are those around San Francisco for the most part, with the plant material that grows perfectly in those environs: lavender, olive trees, succulents. It also features those all-season outdoor spaces that California is famous for. For those who can’t grow those plant materials, spend half their year with inclement weather, and do not have vineyards or mountains in their borrowed views, a lot of interpretation is in store.

That makes this book less of a resource for us in Northern climates, while it is certainly a nice addition to the coffee table stack.
book review
I think what I personally most liked was the guidance it gives in adding art to the garden and melding house, garden, and the character of the surrounding land. The writing style was as smooth and artful as the photos, which made it a pleasure to read. It is a rich experience to walk within these featured gardens through the narrative of their owner’s stories and the knowledgeable picking out of each ones highlights.

If you have desert conditions, or coastal ones similar to California, this book will be a treasure trove of some innovative gardens and plantings.