A Booksmart Review: From Art to Landscape: Unleashing Creativity in Garden Design by W. Gary Smith
From Art to Landscape: Unleashing Creativity in Garden Design by W. Gary Smith (Timber Press, 2010)
Gary Smith, an artist and landscape architect from Toronto, Ontario, has written a very personal book exploring his use of art to stimulate the free flow of ideas, which in turn inform his garden designs. The first part of From Art to Landscape: Unleashing Creativity in Garden Design is gently how-to. The author discusses building a visual vocabulary and investigates ways of seeing and how various artists connect with nature through their unique creative expressions. The second and final part of From Art to Landscape looks in depth at Smith’s creative process, delving into some of his best known projects, including Peirce’s Woods at Longwood Gardens (Pennsylvania), the Tropical Mosaic Garden at the Naples Botanical Garden (Florida), the Enchanted Woods at Winterthur (Delaware), and Art Goes Wild at the New England Wild Flower Society’s Garden in the Woods (Massachusetts).
The designer draws readers into his life and achievements by means of his art, which can be fanciful, fauve, sophisticated, or sentimental. The accompanying landscape photography supports the artwork, although the photographs tend to be less enticing than Smith’s drawings and paintings. The text is clear and full of charm and self-expression. Smith communicates with an appealing transparency, giving his readers not only a look at some projects but also insight into the fertile imagination that produced them. Seeing his painterly ideas actualized in garden after garden is without exception a pleasure.
Reviewed by Penelope O’Sullivan