Raving reviews of Art and the Gardener by Gordon Hayward

Artful Living: A library of garden delights
by Linda Brazill, The Capital Times
In a field like gardening, where new books are as numerous as tulips in spring, it's rare to find one that stands out. Gordon Hayward's books, however, are always noteworthy because the Vermont resident is that rare talent: a good garden designer and a good teacher, in print as well as in person -- as those who've attended his presentations in Madison can attest. But "Art and the Gardener: Fine Painting as Inspiration for Garden Design," Hayward's 10th book on garden design, is a radical departure from his previous work.

It's also stunningly beautiful, inspiring and filled with ideas and observations that will give even the most informed -- or jaded -- gardener pause. If you buy only one book this year, make it Hayward's. The book's been germinating since 1994 when Hayward first gave a talk at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on the relationship between art and the garden. That event made him realize the two disciplines share a vocabulary, but more importantly, they both train the eye to see. And that's what Hayward does for readers in "Art and the Gardener" (Gibbs-Smith, $40, 176 pages).

Hayward trains your eye by continually comparing paintings and gardens focusing first on style (romanticism, minimalism) and then on the relationship between the house and garden (view from the front door, out the window). He offers 10 "methods of composition for the landscape painter and garden designer" and looks closely at design principles like curving paths and focal points.

There is a whole section devoted to the role trees play in the garden: orchards, allees, the effects of low-pruning in compressing views under them. None of these ideas is necessarily new but Hayward's presentation is. Showing each concept as a pair of images -- painted and gardened -- brings a freshness and intelligence that has often been lacking both in books on garden design and in many gardens themselves.

Hayward also looks at that most difficult issue: color harmony and contrast, and begins at the beginning with a color wheel. He uses the gardener's color wheel expertly put together by fellow author, gardener and New Englander Sydney Eddison. He finishes up with a look at Monet, the master at combining life, garden and art.

Hayward includes images of a painting at various stages of creation, floral arrangements that interpret paintings, superb appendices on symbolism in art and gardens, descriptive language and a bibliography. The end papers are swirls of William Morris floral designs that continue onto the cover. "Art and the Gardener" is a book one will never tire of nor cease to learn from.

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