Timeless Landscape Design, Mary Palmer Dargan, ASLA and Hugh Graham Dargan, ASLA, Gibb Smith
Over the past three decades, Mary and Hugh Dargan have been creating award-winning landscapes for their clients. That professional achievement has been accomplished with the help of The Four Part Master Plan, a landscape design method they developed and perfected over time. Essentially, this book summarizes and elaborates upon the Dargan’s plan so that others may use it as a guide to creating successful, seamless, landscape designs.
The Master Plan begins with The Approach and Arrival Sequence, an appreciation for the critical, visual experience associated with the simple act of coming home and parking the car. In this opening segment, attention is paid to the driveway, the front walk, and the home’s entrance.
The second section, called The Hub, deals with the integration of the house into the land and focuses on the home’s exterior presence. Here the authors examine the instantaneous perception that tells the eye, and the brain, if the house is, or is not, well integrated into the property.
The third component of the plan addresses the outdoor experiences of everyday life. Aptly titled The Perimeter, it encompasses ways to blend seamlessly the indoor and outdoor design schemes. It also embraces borrowed views and vistas found in the exterior. Topics mentioned in this section vary from terraces and arbors to lawn entertainment.
The final component discusses the function of garden refuges. Titled Passages to Destinations, it deals with outdoor experiences that are set away from the house itself. These may include flower borders, a bench under a tree, or a secluded garden room. At this stage of planning, the least pragmatic concerns of homeowners are addressed, i.e. the dreams and emotional needs that the landscape design must satisfy.
However, it is the outset of the book that is pivotal to understanding the authors’ philosophical approach to landscape design. Titled Sources and Inspiration, this prologue discusses the application of art and design principles to the landscaping of a property. An extraordinarily well done preamble, it emphasizes the important role that art plays in what is clearly a creative endeavor.
Unlike some books, that appeal mostly to the weekend gardener, this beautifully illustrated academic work, is best suited to students of landscape architecture and garden design. Therefore, it is not a quick read – it is intended for studious absorption.
Nevertheless, it will appeal to all readers, regardless of their level of professional training or landscaping experience. The authors have taken instructional material and written its text in a warm and friendly style, an appreciated approach usually reserved for the sharing of a beautiful journey.
Lushly enhanced with diagrams and photographs, this publication offers strong visual references to historic, inspirational gardens, as well as superb design examples from the authors’ professional archives. So rich is the content that astute readers may learn a great deal about landscape design simply by admiring the photographs that appear, so generously, on every page.