Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

Modern Garden Reading


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
3 Comments » | Published in Design Books, Landscape Design  |  3 Comments

As I mentioned earlier, it is spring for all of us except a few unlucky people up north, and it is time to enjoy the outdoors.  For this week’s reading recommendations, I thought I’d point you to a few inspiring books, starting today with modern landscape architects.

gardens are for peoplePersonally, I think the best place to start is with Thomas Church’s classic, Gardens are for People .  Church has been called "the last great traditional designer and the first great modern designer," and this understanding of design makes him a great teacher as well.  If you are a skimmer, I suggest taking a flip through the charming sketches and photographs and beginning your reading at Chapter 3, "Design Principles (Utility and Beauty in Garden Design)."

garrett eckboThe next designer/author was a protege of Church’s – his name was Garrett Eckbo.  Eckbo was one of the founders of, and the "E" in EDAW, an international landscape architecture firm that is going stronger than ever today. Eckbo was at the forefront of modern American landscape design along with his pal Dan Kiley, who I’ll get to in a minute. Eckbo wrote Landscape for Living in 1950, and many of its principles hold true today.  For a more contemporary view of Eckbo, check out Garrett Eckbo: Modern Landscapes for Living by Marc Treib and Dorothy Imbert.

The Miller Garden Next up, check in on Dan Kiley’s Dan Kiley : The Complete Works of America’s Master Landscape ArchitectProbably the best known Kiley garden is The Miller Garden, which I am not sure of the status of these days – is it possible to visit?  Has it been destroyed?  Does anyone know?  Anyway, it will live on in the beautiful photographs in The Miller Garden: Icon of Modernism by David Dillon and Gary Hilderbrand.  The relationship between the Miller House and Garden is one of the best examples of collaboration between architect and landscape architect, of careful consideration of site planning and context, use of planted form, creation of garden rooms and vistas, and of modern landscape design.

ms.jpgOne of my personal favorites is Martha Schwartz .  After hearing her lecture I immediately switched my focus from Architecture to Landscape Architecture, and even wrangled a week-long "externship" there just to be around the creation of such innovative work up close.  Her monograph from Spacemaker Press is wonderful, though she has accomplished quite a few more built works after it was published.  I noticed there is a new book I have not seen before on Amazon, called The Vanguard Landscapes and Gardens of Martha Schwartz, and I just ordered it, but I haven’t been able to check it out yet. I’ll let you know how it is after I do.  Hmmm, I also noticed that every book I look up gives Gardens are for People as the first suggested reading, so I must say I am impressed with Amazon on this topic!

One more note: Spacemaker Press has put out some of the best landscape architecture books out there.  I miss Land Forum, the magazine they used to publish – it was the glossiest, most informative periodical out there.  Yes, I realize it had much more important underlying significance, but let’s face it, glossy is important too (wink!).

About Becky:
Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!

About Becky

has written 1620 post in this blog.

Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!



  1. The Modern Gardener says:

    April 23rd, 2009 at 11:39 am (#)

    I totally agree about Church and Eckbo, but I would say Martha Schwartz is more pop-garden than Modernist (with a capital em). I’m not sure what the Modernists would say about the bagel garden that made her famous!

  2. becky says:

    April 23rd, 2009 at 3:38 pm (#)

    Hmmm, I think maybe I’d categorize Martha’s wit as POMO. I think to write her off as pop is to not see all the connections and nods to history she is layering into her designs. The first time I heard her speak, one of my friends said “Who the hell does she think she is? How the hell could she do that to New York?” regarding Jacob Javitz Plaza while I, on the other hand was swooning. A year later the same friend said “She really knows what she’s doing. I was wrong – she’s not just f-cking around.”

  3. deckchairs says:

    July 8th, 2009 at 7:17 am (#)

    Thanks for taking the time to write so much about these books, I am always on the lookout for something new to put on my coffee table and this list has certainly given me a few ideas of what to purchase next.

    I will certainly be making this blog one of the regular web pages that I visit!

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