Review and Giveaway: The Layered Garden, by David Culp
For reasons we don’t need to go into here, I find myself in possession of two hard cover copies of David Culp’s The Layered Garden. I figured this was a good reason to do something I have never done before: a giveaway (of the extra book). Details at the end of this post.
The Layered Garden is a fun read. It is best understood as a tour of Culp’s spectacular 2 acre garden at Brandywine Cottage in Pennsylvania, This includes a loving consideration, organized by season, of the many genera that are the object of Culp’s obsessions: snowdrops, hellebores, peonies, alliums, lilies, etc. (Culp is an accomplished breeder of some of these.)
Culp also discusses his guiding garden design principles, but for me that would be a secondary reason for reading this book. Not that those principles are not highly valuable, but they can be found elsewhere. Not so for the vicarious walk through the grounds of Brandywine Cottage.
By “layered garden”, Culp means multi-dimensional in all possible ways: “… to get the most interest from any garden, all the layers need to be considered, from the ground level to the middle level of shrubs and small trees up to the canopy trees.” The seasons also comprise layers of a kind, as do different sections of the garden, so that intensity of interest shifts from bed to bed as the months go by (including the winter months).
Like Christopher Lloyd and other admirable garden writers, Culp disdains rules and believes gardening should be an expression of the gardeners’ passion and a means of having fun. This comes across strongly as Culp shows us around his garden, which given its size and topography provides a mix of opportunities most urban or suburban gardeners could only dream of: steep and flat, shade and sun, moist and dry.
I especially loved the description of his “Ruin Garden”, which is built on the foundation of an old stone barn: “… the most exciting feature of this space … is how the vertical walls are covered with plants. I started planting in existing crevices where the mortar had dislodged … I began deliberately loosening other stones (like a child jiggling a loose tooth) until they fell out.”
He makes ample use of troughs as containers in the Ruin Garden: “I started out with two troughs, but over the years I have learned that one or two of anything looks timid and tentative. I now have twenty-seven …” A gardener after my own heart!
So if you would like a copy of The Layered Garden of your very own, just write a comment no later than Monday, June 30th, at 7 PM CST, answering the question: what is your all-time favorite garden book? A winner will be picked at random. If you want to comment but are not interested in receiving the book, just make a note of that in your comment.