By Robert Mallet
W.W. Norton & Company, $39.95, 144 pages

When planning a garden, concepts such as location and theme should be considered. These larger elements of gardening are explored in Robert Mallet’s book Envisioning the Garden. This French designer’s detailed look at design as it relates to gardening and landscaping is accompanied by over 150 color photographs and line drawings by architect Yven Poinsot. The pictures are of French and English gardens making them unique to the U.S. audience. Mallet considered what elements, when brought together, create a successful garden. Chapters explore line, scale, distance, form and color. Readers will learn that the use of visual elements including arches, terraces, and pathways can evoke strong emotions of peace and tranquility. On the other hand, Mallet provides examples of “special effects” gardens where reality is distorted which can evoke feelings of confusion and fragmentation.

Ultimately, Mallet does a great job of guiding readers and suggesting ways to understand a garden. You’ll be inspired to use these design elements in a future landscape plan and the next time you visit a garden, view it with a new eye. It’s an expensive book, but between the text, illustrations and the architect’s photographs, the reader gets a comprehensive education on the use of design elements.

Elizabeth Franklin

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