In it, Messervy, a designer and co-author of Susan Susanka’s Outside the Not-So-Big House, describes a process home owners should go through as they decide how to landscape their property. Like many garden design books, it’s full of fabulous photos of no doubt fabulously expensive gardens. Unlike most garden design books, Messervy deals with the kinds of problems average gardeners have, such as how to make a home welcoming when the garage is the first thing visitors see. (As the owner of a snout house, as garage-forward homes are called, this is a pet issue of mine with garden design books. Note to authors and landscapers: People have garages. Please help us deal with them.) If you are starting with a blank canvass or planning a major garden renovation, this book is a great place to start.
Messervy includes many of the normal exercises design books have, but she also has wonderful asides that help you deal with big and small issues. For instance, she recommends gardeners name their garden as a way to think about how they want their garden to function in their lives. While I haven’t put up a sign or anything, this exercise got me thinking about what I want in my garden — lots of birds, bees, and blooms — and that has helped direct expansions and revisions of the garden.
Whether you are starting from scratch or planning a garden renovation, Messervy’s book is a good place to start.