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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at  gardengurumontreal.ca

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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Entries in garden photos (4)

Wednesday
Oct132010

Image Accreditation: Whose Pictures Are They, Anyway?

A recent blog posted here on October 3, 2010, titled "Does Your Garden Advice Lose its Flavor on the Bed Post Overnight?" generated a significant amount of commentary both on my site as well as on Kimberly’s, who blogs at Garden in Paradise. Kimberly ran with the proverbial ball, so to speak, by continuing the dialogue on garden advice at her site. Her post is titled "Bloggers Bawl" and was posted on October 7, 2010.

Then, a very interesting development occurred on both her blog and mine. At some point in the conversation,  the commentaries turned to the topic of accreditation. I went back to re read all of the posted opinions to make sure that I understood each replier’s point of view. After several reads, I concluded that this subject is not only very controversial but also, that there can never be a consensus because there are too many opposing opinions. The most prominent are two that I label “Black-White” and “Grey”.

Those in the Black-White camp follow the guidelines of the publishing and communication industries. All intellectual property belongs to the creator or the purchaser and should not be used without the express permission of the current owner and that permission must be acknowledged by the user. From the perspective of those in this camp, it is important to appreciate that creative people earn a living from the intellectual property that they produce and that publishers earn a living from marketing the intellectual properties that they purchase.

The grey camp believes that after an image has been acquired, paid for, and posted on line; it may be used by bloggers for non commercial purposes, without time-consuming prior permission, as long as it is accredited. That accreditation includes acknowledging the site where it was found and a link back to that site. However, the exception occurs when an image is expressly copyrighted by the owner, or when a site posts a warning that forbids its re use under any circumstances.

From the perspective of those in the grey camp, it is important to recognize that there is a tacit understanding between blogger and site owner. A link-back from a blog provides free publicity to a commercial website with the hope that it will generate revenue in terms of sales of products, services, or subscriptions. At the least, it is expected to increase the number of unique visitors to a site; a number that has great significance because it is a measure of the attractiveness of that site to potential advertisers. In this manner owners, who have legitimately paid for the images posted to their sites, are happy to share that intellectual property with bloggers who might send them additional reader traffic.

Our community of garden bloggers may have reached, or is about to reach, a confrontation point. Accreditation by link-back, without prior permission, is not acceptable to one camp while the other camp cannot fully appreciate the sacredness of intellectual property. Never should there be a judgment on the intelligence or ethical integrity of either group. There may be serious differences between them on this subject; however, members of both camps are otherwise held in high regard by their respective readers and by their garden blogging colleagues.

I hope that the two opposing camps will not create a schism within our community. That is an occurrence that no one wants as it would be counter productive to the harmony and mutual respect that we now experience. Therefore, in the same spirit that we acknowledge that there are no absolute truths in gardening, we should also agree that bloggers accredit their sources as they please.

Monday
May042009

Web Photos I like

 I don't get a chance to use compositions of Hemerocallis very often because I design city gardens that cannot accommodate the spread that several of these plants will create.  But I do like the effect they contribute to a perennial garden. Here is a long-view photo of such a garden. From this perspective, one does not see the flowers up close. It is the overall effect that is striking. The garden is planted with mostly Hemerocallis with some Echinacea scattered here and there for color punctuation. What I especially like about this picture is the angle from which it was shot. The perspective draws us deep into the garden and helps to showcase the color combinations. This image is a view of the gardens at Gardensplus.ca in Peterborough, Ontario.

Sunday
Mar082009

Web Photos That I Like

The picture above, titled "Painterly", was taken at the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens in Vancouver, British Columbia. The photographer, Eric Webster, has given it an appropriate name as it is reminiscent of the Impressionist paintings of the gardens at Giverney by Monet. Click on the image to see more of Mr. Webster's work.

Sunday
Mar012009

The English Garden: Book Review for Bookpleasures.com

The English Garden, Phaidon Press 

One should not call a garden “English” without specifying the century or the designer’s name attached to it. Each age brought its own interpretation to the landscape surrounding the proverbial English manor.This publication, which is encyclopedic in its coverage of English gardens, teaches us that every landowner asked something different from his landscape designer. Furthermore, what comes to mind as a traditional English garden may be English in origin but is certainly not what some of us might call a “garden”.

What the English call gardens is what North Americans call estates or parks.These are not back yard venues.They were, for the most part, until the latter half of the twentieth century, vast landscaped acreage. Sometimes the contours of these terrains were sculpted into the vision of the landscaper and sometimes they respected the natural formations of the land. In either case, landowners had the necessary wealth to modify nature, if they so wished.That is a revealing factor that is often overlooked.

In olden times, a garden might be a large cow-grazing pasture whose borders began at the foundations of an elaborate country manor. This garden would extend for several acres. It also might have been a messy cottage garden, filled with edible crops and herbs, growing outside the kitchen door of an otherwise elaborate estate.These gardens wered filled with flowering plants whose purpose was never intended to be esthetic; they were intended to control pests. In another instance, a garden might consist of intricate geometric shapes sprinkled, maze like, on the expansive grounds of a stately home, purely decorative in essence, but otherwise very impressive not only for the expense required to create it but also for the high cost of its maintenance.

While there is a disconnect between today’s modest weekend gardener who can only admire the gardens in this book and the land owner who can afford to replicate them, there are some lessons that all of us can learn from this historical overview. The most accessible are those gardens that have been created from the late nineteenth century onwards. From Munstead Wood, designed by Gertrude Jekyll, we learn about impressionist floral landscapes “painted” in romantic color schemes. More recent designers such a Piet Oudolf, Beth Chatto and Tom Stuart-Smith have taken a modern approach and have used plants to create powerful abstract paintings that move across meadow and lawn.These landscapers, working in the latter half of the twentieth century, reflect contemporary values about color combinations that would have been considered visually dissonant fifty years earlier.

While most of the landscapers in this book are worthy of mention, two deserve special attention. One is the late Dame Miriam Rothschild, who converted her neat estate into a wildflower meadow and invented, along the way, a popular wild flower seed mix called Farmer’s Nightmare! The other landscaper of note is Tim Smit who discovered an overgrown garden at Heligan, which had been neglected for over a hundred years. Rather than restore it, he cut through some of the growth to barely expose a beautiful, but haunting, ‘lost’ garden which he successfully converted into a tourist destination.

It is inspiring for the suburban gardener to learn that world class garden designers working in Britain today are also designing  gardens for small spaces.The utilitarian value of a back yard garden, as an oasis within the inner city and as a venue to entertain guests, has inspire some designers to include furniture and to introduce rock and metal into these mini landscapes. Often, dramatic lighting is incorporated, as well, to reflect the fashion of entertaining outdoors after dark.

While this is ostensibly a picture book, it is also by inference a socioeconomic survey of English society. The text that accompanies each illustration, offers a cameo of the age in which each garden was created. This is an added bonus, easily overlooked by the reader who might chose only to admire the photographs. I was delighted to read the text as I gained some insight into the mind set of the land owners that commissioned the gardens and the landscapers that created them.These historical footnotes to the pictures enrich the book and make for a fascinating read.

When I began reviewing gardening books, I assumed that there was no need to cover the works of the romantic gardeners of the late nineteenth to mid twentieth centuries who, up until recently, have been so influential in shaping our tastes in garden design. So much has been written about them, that there didn’t seem to be anything left to say. However, by placing them into an historical perspective, as the editors of this book have done, we gain a greater appreciation for their role. And, by juxtaposing them with contemporary modernists, who speak to us in a more current voice, we come to appreciate the radical evolution in garden design that is taking place in our lifetime.

Read my other reviews at bookpleasures.com