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The Layered Garden: An Introduction

by Timber Press on November 13, 2012

in Design, Gardening

David Culp’s layered garden at Brandywine Cottage. Photo: Rob Cardillo

I first saw David Culp’s garden twenty years ago, when I was studying horticulture. The garden, though relatively young, was beautiful, a series of traditional flower borders surrounding a stone and timber cottage in the hills west of Philadelphia. Fifteen years later I visited again, while scouting for Martha Stewart Living. The garden was now filled in, of course, but its lush exuberance was distinctly marked by a rhythm and flow that comes only from well-planned design. Everywhere I looked, another shot for the magazine presented itself; every few feet, it seemed, a striking vignette of unusual plants demanded attention. But it wasn’t just about the photography – plenty of gardens look great on film but feel soulless, flat, when you visit them. David’s garden had depth; it was and is a wonderful place to be, in part because each well-chosen, well-sited, and well-tended plant contributes to the garden’s strong sense of place, or genius loci in design-speak. You can imagine spending afternoons watching birds flit through the woodland garden, marveling at the play of light as it tracks across the shrub borders, noting which leaves best catch the morning dew.

With a bit of alchemy, experiences like this are captured in The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage. The reader gets to amble through the garden with David as he tells what early decisions (and subsequent tweaks) led to the magic now unfolding. It’s a unique chance to visit a favored spot, in every season, with a warm, funny, knowledgeable guide at your side.

—Andrew Beckman, Associate Publisher, Timber Press

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The following excerpt is the introduction by David Culp to his book, The Layered Garden.

“I certainly make no claim that the ‘layered garden’  is my own invention,” writes Culp, “What I hope to offer, in the text and especially in the photographs and captions, is an intimate look at how one such garden has been conceived and constructed. Just as we can learn much by the peering into individual flowers, the close examination of any good garden, along with insights into the minds and the methods of its gardeners, can teach many lessons.”

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kathleen Gordon November 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Gardening for 46 years and still learning!

2 Brian Ridder November 26, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Hi Kathleen. Gardening for 46 years, huh? Wow! Glad to know you haven’t lost the student spirit.

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