Plant Talk | Science Talk

The Art of Gardening

Esther Jackson is the Public Services Librarian at NYBG’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library where she manages Reference and Circulation services and oversees the Plant Information Office. She spends much of her time assisting researchers, providing instruction related to library resources, and collaborating with NYBG staff on various projects related to Garden initiatives and events.

The Art of GardeningThe Art of Gardening takes its reader on an immersive journey through one of the world’s great pleasure gardens—Chanticleer.  Like a visit to the garden itself, The Art of Gardening titillates the reader, drawing them in with its gorgeous photography and well-crafted garden essays.

I struggled a bit with this review, perhaps in the same way that I struggle to describe Chanticleer to those who haven’t visited.  “A gardener’s garden” is the line most frequently used to encompass the mission and scope of the grounds. Fittingly, the book’s introduction includes a section titled “What is Chanticleer?” The section quotes an interview, which I in turn quote below.

So, what is this place? Why do you exist?

We are a garden; a place of beauty, pleasure, escape.

But, I mean, what do you do? Why would anyone come?


Flipping through the pages of The Art of Gardening, it is abundantly clear why people visit Chanticleer, and why this book has had so much wonderful press already. In fact, it was recently named one of the recipients of the 2016 American Horticultural Society Book Award. Those with an eye for landscape design will be especially drawn in, and home gardeners will appreciate the helpful how-to tips for ways to achieve creative planting displays at home.
I used the word immersive before, but other appropriate adjectives for this book would be playful, conversational, and innovative. From landscape shots to beauty shots of especially photographic cultivars, each page is a delight.

For more on this worthwhile book and the iconic garden it discusses, see Joyce Newman’s recent impressions.

While the NYBG Members Trip to Chanticleer has come and gone for 2016, I hope that you’ll jump at the chance to make this visit next year, and, until then, I encourage you to spend a leisurely afternoon (or three) feasting your eyes on The Art of Gardening.

The Art of Gardening: Design Inspiration and Innovative Planting Techniques from Chanticleer by the Chanticleer Gardeners and R. William Thomas. Timber Press, 2015. 336 pages, 276 color photos. Hardcover. $34.95. ISBN: 9781604695441

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