cover image A Garden’s Purpose: Cultivating Our Connection with the Natural World

A Garden’s Purpose: Cultivating Our Connection with the Natural World

Félix de Rosen. Princeton Architectural, $29.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-79722-244-8

This meditative debut from ecological designer de Rosen waxes poetic about the beauty of gardens. “Everybody has a deep spiritual connection to the Earth, so everybody can garden,” contends de Rosen as he outlines a philosophical approach to garden design based on examples from around the world. He suggests that gardens can inspire wonder by changing how people relate to their surroundings and notes that in the dry garden of a Zen Buddhist temple outside Kyoto, Japan, it’s impossible to see all the garden’s 15 stones at once, communicating the “Zen belief that reality cannot be fully understood.” Positing that “edges help us appreciate difference,” de Rosen finds inspiration in Paris landscapers who transformed an asphalt courtyard into a garden and used broken shards of asphalt to decorate the garden’s perimeter. He encourages readers to see plants as creating “garden rooms” and shows how the canopies of elm trees in Central Park come together to look “like the vaults of a cathedral.” Though de Rosen focuses on theory more than application, gardeners will find no shortage of inspiration in the enlightening design perspectives and gorgeous photos of green spaces across the globe. Smart and beautifully rendered, this has the power to change how gardeners approach their work. (Mar.)