Book Review: Tomorrow’s Garden

Tomorrow’s Garden:
Design and Inspiration for a New Age of Sustainable Gardening
by Stephen Orr

234 pages
Rodale, 2011
List price: $24.99

Stephen Orr has surely seen a million gardens by now. Though that’s an exaggeration, his past and present jobs have afforded him the luxury of getting a peek at more than most of us. In his recent book, Tomorrow’s Garden, Orr takes us on a tour of 14 stunning gardens, located mostly on the east and west coasts, with the majority of them being on urban plots.

I’ve found that most garden design books focus on the smaller city lots and they’re like shoes – they’re often more charming in a smaller size. If you have a rural property, as I do, you notice this. But Tomorrow’s Garden has more than enough to inspire me, even if I have to give consideration to how I might adapt some of the gorgeous designs in this book.

Each of the gardens is featured as if it were appearing in a magazine, which is understandable, given Orr’s profession as the gardening editorial director for Martha Stewart Living magazine and his previous positions with Domino and House & Garden magazines. The gardens demonstrate responsible environmental practices, as far as is possible, and every one of them has strong aesthetic appeal, whether you are a fan of the traditional or the contemporary.

With 200 color photographs within its 256 pages, this is a book to be looked at again and again for inspiration. In fact, there’s so much to take in, it’s like visiting a place such as Longwood Gardens (Pennsylvania) or Butchart Gardens (Vancouver Island, BC) – there’s always something to be found that you didn’t see the first time.

If I’ve one real complaint, it’s that the print size is too small. They’ve enlarged it a little when the words are printed on a colored background, but even that is a little difficult to read. Orr has a lot to say and I don’t know if the book editors/designers were trying to fit all those words in between all those photographs while trying to restrict the size of the book, or what. I’m near-sighted, so it can’t be blamed on my eyesight, as I don’t require glasses for reading. The print is just small. But I enjoyed the book enough that I’ll forgive the publisher.

Stephen Orr is the gardening editorial director for Martha Stewart Living magazine and formerly was a contributor to the New York Times and garden editor for Domino and House & Garden magazines. He lives and gardens in New York City and upstate New York. Follow Stephen on whatweretheskieslike.com.

Read more garden book reviews.

Read Kylee Baumle’s blog, Our Little Acre.

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