Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Bunny Williams: On Garden Style

The garden section of my library is woefully slim, which is likely due to the fact that I'm not a gardener, nor do I consider myself much of a gardening enthusiast. I come by this lack of fervor honestly. First, neither of my parents are into gardening. Our house always had lovely landscaping, but a professional was brought in to handle it. And second, I'm a city girl through and through, with most of my adulthood having been spent in residential buildings, where gardening means planting a few pots for the balcony.

That being said, I do admire beautiful gardens and landscapes. It would be strange if I didn't considering that gardens and interiors have much in common. I also admire beautiful gardening books, although they have to be particularly inspiring and dreamy for me to want to add them to my library. I found such a book in the newly revised edition of Bunny Williams On Garden Style, which was first published in 1998.

In the book's introduction, Williams says that she was inspired to write On Garden Style because many gardening books dealt more with horticulture and "few communicated the importance of a garden's whole design."  This is one of the reasons why I so enjoyed this book.  Had the book been bogged down with horticultural minutiae, it would have sent me packing.  Instead, it taught me much about considering a garden's overall structure as well as achieving the desired mood, or personality, of a garden.  Williams makes a point of treating gardens as outdoor rooms, and it's that comparison which particularly resonated with me.  I now realize that well-conceived gardens are about so much more than the flowers and plants that grow in them.

Speaking of well-conceived gardens, there are plenty to gaze at in this book.  Featured gardens include those of Williams, Piet Oudolf, Oscar de la Renta, and Jack Lenor Larsen, to name but a few.  Also, there is much visual diversity in the photos, for they're not all depictions of flowers or plants.  There are paths, fences, espaliered trees, hedges, and more, which means that all of us- even those, like me, who are gardening clueless- can find something to appreciate.  By the way, all of the photos in this revised edition are new, so if you own the original edition of this book, you'll have plenty of new material to savor.  And savor is likely what you'll do with those photos.

If you're a hardcore gardener, then I believe you will learn as much from this book as I, the novice, did.  But as informative as this book is, it also has that quality which I mentioned earlier: dreamy.  When read before bedtime, On Garden Style will lull you into a verdant dream world.

*I recently learned that Bunny Williams and John Rosselli's beloved garden store, Treillage, will close at the end of June.  The last event that will be hosted there will be a book signing event for On Garden Style on April 14.  A sale will begin the next day, April 15.   


  1. A wonderful book! I had the pleasure of visiting the gardens in CT TWICE! It is a deeply soulful place, which made the book even more precious to me. I agree with Bunny on the design of gardens. Your home should relate to the ground around it, and any home is enhanced by a well thought out design. You don't need to be a gardener to make it happen...but its much more fun when you can go out and be part of it. Love digging, love weeding!

  2. "Gardens as Outdoor Rooms" is what really appeals to me. Bunny does gardens up right, so beckoning and comfortable! I was sorry to hear about Treillage closing; however I understand she and John will keep an online presence.

    The Arts by Karena

  3. I agree with jayne + have this book + refer to it all the time.

  4. I adore these pictures - they remind me of grand gardens at castles. It's great to see people viewing gardens with the same overall design eye one would give interior design! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Great posting Jennifer!
    Sad to hear about Treiillage closing, my old friend Sandra Kirk worked there many years ago...
    Imagine, Bunny is one the few living designers who trained under Mrs. Parish - something that sets her apart from the rest!
    En plus, being married to John on top of it all!

  6. I totally agree, I'm not much of a gardener myself. These gardens are so pretty. If only I had the motivation to make a garden like this, haha!

  7. Omg! These are so adorable.....i am Nigerian and we aren't so big on keeping gardens, buh after seeing this, I might just have one when I get my own house

  8. I love gardens like this. Only problem is, I hate gardening, so I'd have to employ a gardener to ever be able to live in a house that had one :) Lovely though.