Get Outdoors! Perennial Bookworm

Outdoors: The Garden Design Book for the 21st Century, Diarmuid Gavin and Terence Conran, 2007.  The Monacelli Press, 271 pages, 14” x 10”, $60.00 (hardcover).

Conran is an iconic design figure in Europe for good reason. This book, as well as his previous, The Essential Garden Book, are collaborations with young, up-and-comers and are large scale feasts for the eyes.  Outdoors showcases many contemporary gardens, as that is Gavin’s forte, but Conran’s influence shines through in the gorgeous vegetable gardens and lush potagers.  Especially fresh are the images of kid-friendly gardens, which tend to be under-represented in design books.  Straight forward text is well supported by photos with captions that explain what is on view, how it works and why.  The section on selecting a professional lets the reader know what to anticipate from a designer, an architect, design-build firm, etc (from a designers perspective, mind you).  It even let’s the reader know what will be expected of them as a client should they hire a garden pro.  While most design books are a collection of unrelated photos, a nice feature of Outdoors is the “Case Studies” of individual gardens where a full appreciation of the unified vision comes clear.  Design concepts such as the repetition of materials, for instance, are revealed in the thirteen case studies, each accompanied by a line drawing of the landscape plan.  I revisit this book often for inspiration, as I have Conran’s others and think it appropriate for anyone looking for novel gardening ideas.

Monacelli Press offers other wonderful garden titles

About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is freelance garden writer and speaker.
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2 Responses to Get Outdoors! Perennial Bookworm

  1. Love the cover garden! It reminds me of the Mississippi River valley serpent mounds and also of Charles Jencks’ Garden of Cosmic Speculation. If only I had 72 acres in a climate where it rained enough to consider having a lawn. Wouldn’t that be a great vista to look down on?

    • Colleen Miko says:

      Yes, and a garden crew to tend it while we drank mint julips. I believe the image IS Charles Jenck’s garden at Portrack House in Scotland, so you’re spot on. The nice thing about the book is that while there are plenty of examples of 72 acre gardens, there are also many remarkable but small, urban gardens represented.

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