A Booksmart Review: Handmade Garden Projects by Lorene Edwards Forkner

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Handmade Garden Projects, Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More by Lorene Edwards Forkner (Timber Press, 2011)

It is impossible to know which came first—the latest garden trend of repurposing everyday household items into works of garden art or Lorene Edwards Forkner’s book, Handmade Garden Projects, Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting & More. In either case, Forkner captures the spirit of the new movement beautifully in her timely compilation of do-it-yourself (DIY) garden projects. From gabion-style sitting areas to wire chandeliers, Handmade Garden Projects makes the reader wonder why she should ever purchase an expensive “outdoor living” item again.

Handmade Garden Projects results from Forkner’s career as a garden designer, writer, and “crafty-creative, eco-friendly non-traditionalist.” Her style is self-proclaimed Urban Hillbilly Chic, and each garden project displays her love for plants and her background as a fine artist. The book begins with practical advice—clear out the basement or garage, define your outdoor style and inspirations, and assemble materials you already own. Add a few simple hardware items and building tools, and “create a garden that fits your style.”

One particularly striking example of an easy DIY project with elegant results is the “sleek succulent gutter.” Take a pedestrian galvanized gutter with end caps, tin snips, pliers, a rubber mallet, drill, screws, potting soil, and succulents, and turn a balcony planting into a “contemporary composition [that is] stylish and hip.”

Handmade Garden Projects is filled with flair. Whether yours is a large swath of land or a tiny urban balcony, there is a project for everyone. But, as the preface reveals, this is much more than a DIY guide; it is a call to action to return to a simpler time—a time when we enjoyed the playfulness of nature and made use of our imaginations to create personal and intimate spaces of our own.


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