7 Bay Area gardens are featured in designer’s latest book

From Filoli to Ruth Bancroft, seven gorgeous Bay Area gardens are featured in the pages of a beautiful new book, “The Garden: Elements and Styles” (Phaidon, $70).

Author and garden designer Toby Musgrave has singled out Filoli, Flora Grubb, Medlock Ames winery and Ruth Bancroft gardens, as well as private gardens in Tiburon and Oakland to illustrate various garden elements and styles.

“The selection criteria for these gardens was the same as for all the illustrations included — that the gardens be special, yet representative of the element, feature or style under discussion — and must offer inspiration to today’s garden-maker and be beautifully photographed,” writes Musgrave in a recent email.

Organized by almost 200 garden themes, this photo-driven, coffee-table-sized book features images that illustrate global styles such as aviary, coastal, courtyard, cutting, French, Italianate, maze, plantsman’s, Renaissance, roof, rock, temple, terrace, theatrical, topiary, raised bed, tropical, walled, wildlife, woodland and xeriscape gardens.

• The serene pool and water fountain at Filoli in Woodside is showcased under the “water garden” element page.

• Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco is mentioned on the “objet trouve” page, among three others, that display salvaged items as garden art.

• Medlock Ames winery in Sonoma was selected for the “screen” page for its use of a horizontal-planked fence that separates a contemporary garden and complements its raised beds designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.

• Two gardens represent the xeriscape style — a living palette of cascading colors in a Tiburon garden designed by Arterra Landscape Architects, and a collection of native and international succulents and cacti nestled in the acclaimed Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek.

• A garden in Oakland exemplifies exotic gardening, where the emphasis is on unusual or rare plants for the time and the region.

• A garden in an undisclosed suburban Bay Area neighborhood demonstrates an effective use of color gardening.

Musgrave says his concept of exploring garden history with the best of contemporary design was designed to re-introduce some forgotten historical elements and styles, and reveal how they can be dusted off and made relevant once more.

A xeriscape garden in Tiburon that’s a living palette of cascading colors is featured in “The Garden: Elements and Styles.” 

Today’s gardener, he writes, “has never had a wider range of materials, a broader palette of plants, nor a greater breadth of global inspiration and garden history on which to draw.”

These local gardens join other famous gardens in the book, including England’s Castle Howard, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, the Royal Gardens at Highgrove and David Austin Rose Gardens.

For fans of French gardens, there are highlights from Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, Chateau de Villandry, Musee Rodin and Palace of Versailles.

The book also includes famous gardens from Germany, Italy, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom as long as those from the United States.

Not so familiar might be these curious garden terms — from allotment (a community edible garden) to zeitgeist (a garden with the defining spirit of an era), brutalism (raw concrete), buffet d’eau (a grand sculptural water feature), chadar bagh (a walled enclosure of four gardens), coquillage (a display of shellwork), genius loci (spirit of place) and peristyle (a columned covered walkway).

The grand gardens in this book will dazzle the eye, but the attention to detail will inspire thoughts for one’s own garden.

Sam Son

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