Book cover Garden Design Structures
I came across this preface I wrote for a book on garden structure and designs in 2013 and thought it worth reposting here. It compliments my current garden and landscape design blogpost masterclass. One of my projects, the award-winning Hilltop Gardens in Chester East Cheshire is also featured in the book on page 132.
Often when we think about gardens or landscape the first thought that springs to mind are of plants, trees, shrubs and flowers. However, to create an exciting and dynamic garden the planting must also compliment the hard landscaping materials and structures present in the garden. This includes structures such as paths, pergolas, fences gates and so on. There may also be a water feature, some decorative pots and urns or a simple piece of sculpture.
Strategic lighting can also be used to enhance the garden at night by allowing individual areas or features to be highlighted. Considering all these elements carefully allows the garden designer to create a sense of sustained drama. This balance of elements heightens the emotional interaction and context within the designed landscape. It is the skilful combination of all of these elements that, combined by the garden designer, landscape designer, landscape architect, creates a successful outdoor aesthetic.
Garden designers and landscape architects seek out this harmonious balance of structure and plants each time they begin the process of creating a set of designs for gardens and outdoor spaces. Used successfully, hard landscaping provides a framework for the softer elements of planting suffusing together to create a single unified space. This is where this book, Garden Structures Excellent Designs is different from the vast plethora of garden design and landscape architecture books on the market. Where many offer little insight into the processes and ideas that lead to the creation of truly great spaces this book shares that knowledge.
In setting out to do so it explores in depth the influences and objectives of the designers and the processes and approach they use in creating a designed landscape. Whilst these influences and the objectives of the designs may vary dramatically it is demonstrated is a new and contemporary language of landscape design. This is highlighted by the balance of materials structures and plants. These range in use from the truly minimal to the lush and densely green.
Indeed some of the examples in this book are almost devoid of plants but still successfully manage to convey a sense of invite and earth warmth. Even within this pared-back minimalism, they convey a sense of journey that I want to explore and interact with. Some, I simply want to allow the space to wrap itself around me like a soothing blanket. The generous inclusion of plans and in some cases elevations of the designs is a true bonus. This takes the reader closer to the processes and techniques used by the garden designers and landscape architects. Their inclusion also offers a deeper insight into the processes of creating a successful outdoor space. As part of this, the designer also provides an insight into the balance between design intent and client requirements.
Successfully designed this often leads to blurring of the lines between garden spaces and interior spaces. Yet the underlying principles and desires are the same regardless of the geographical location. That is the desire to create balance and harmony between structure plants and man. What is clear from this book is the approach to designing a successful landscape is also heavily influenced by the style of architecture of both the home, the office, and their respective surroundings. This can be seen in the broad range and scope of projects featured in Garden Structures Excellent Designs.
Ultimately a well-designed space can quite often leave the viewer speechless filled with a sense of excitement and wonder that few other stimuli in life can offer. In one of my projects featured in this book (a multi-award-winning garden in East Cheshire in the UK) even though I designed the space to highlight the haze of Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ planted by curved paths nothing quite prepared me for my return visit when this blue-grass was in flower.
From the moment you approach a well-designed garden or landscape you should feel drawn to senses that heighten the experience of the surroundings. These spaces not only inspire but make our lives feel the richer for it. At its best great design instils an emotional connection and response that gives hope and in its serenity and escape from the pressures and stresses of everyday life.
Although the book sets out to focus on the structure in gardens and landscapes by its inspired division into individual chapters it also successfully demonstrates the importance of structure in the creation of a balanced whole. The structures included between the pages of this book will challenge the reader’s preconceived notions of normal descriptions. For example, what is considered a fence, pergola or pavilion to name but a few? Here we are presented with new concepts, shapes and material which inspire the enhancement and development of the art of landscape. This is further demonstrated by the manipulation of new and exciting forms through the dynamic use of materials. Not only is it their use in blending the interplay of light and shade but also by inviting us to take the journey, walk the space and explore.
For me, I feel animated to travel and to explore further some of the gardens and landscapes presented between these pages too. I am inspired to create landscapes influenced by this dynamic new approach to landscapes and gardens I set out to design. For you the reader it will provide the inspiration and ideas needed to enhance your own outdoor space whatever the location.
© David Keegan 2020 This is a revised version of the preface I wrote in 2013 for the book Garden Structures Designs published in China by Tianjin Phoenix Space Culture Media Co., Ltd. available in both Chinese and English language versions. The book can be found at these links
© All rights reserved. Do not publish any or all of this copyrighted works without the prior consent of the author.
David Keegan is a multi-award winning internationally recognised garden and landscape designer. He is the only UK designer to have been awarded the prestigious Northern Design Award for Best Landscape Designer four times, winning the award in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016. He has also received international recognition for his landscape design work in the International Landscape Design Awards in the USA winning awards in both 2012 and 2018. His Eco garden also won national UK recognition winning BALI (British Association of Landscape Industry) awards in 2017 ‘Principle Award Winner’ for domestic garden construction. A self-confessed plant-a-holic his personal motto is ‘It’s All About The Plants’ He regularly appears as a speaker on trade panel shows. His work has also featured in numerous magazines and books on landscape design. Based in Manchester he is currently working on a variety of projects across North West England, the UK, and Europe.
To view his portfolio of work simply click this link
To contact David Keegan Garden Design click this link