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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #247

Beauty by design : inspired gardening in the Pacific Northwest by Bill Terry , 2013

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2014-10-01

Beauty by Design cover

Bill Terry and Rosemary Bates both had extensive careers in journalism. It shows in the quality of their interviews in “Beauty by Design,” a book about gardeners in a “passionate pursuit of perfection.” These profiles capture in just a few pages the personality of their subjects, and the intimate relationship of gardener to garden.

Every chapter reads like a memoir. All would captivate readers within a wide spectrum of artistic interests as many of the subjects are artists in a different medium, including painters, a potter, and poets. Terry and Bates conclude that “these gardeners, indeed all gardeners, are alchemists of nature, art, and artifice.”

Some of the eleven individuals or couples profiled are familiar names around Seattle, including Dan Hinkley, Linda Cochrane, George Little, and David Lewis. Most are better known in the gardening circles of southwest British Columbia, but a common theme is they have spent a significant part of their lives in other places, and have been strongly influenced by very different climates, traditions, and histories.

An example is Robin Hopper, a potter living in Metchosin, British Columbia, near Victoria. He describes the fusion in his garden as “Anglo-Japanadian.” He is quite familiar with the various styles—he counts five—of Japanese gardening, and acknowledges their impact, but the description of his garden makes it clear that it has its very own style.

“The forest floor is all happy chaos: hostas mingling with hellebores (H. foetidus) in flower, the leaves of hardy cyclamen, bits of iris, various self-seeded woodland wildlings, and, most delightfully, the flowers of the white fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum). Birds and bugs must love this place.”

Excerpted from the Fall 2014 Arboretum Bulletin.

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