On the plus side, the photos are undeniably beautiful. They have taken care to select the right time of day, the right angle, and the right exposure to really maximize the beauty of the gardens and plants. The paper and printing process enhances their beauty. Many, but not all, of the photos are from their own garden (I don't know how large their space is, but it is obviously larger than my own, and has a natural backdrop that my suburban home could never replicate). I have already learned a few lessons about garden design (daffodils point southeast, so plant them so they'll turn toward the viewing area, for instance).
On the negative side, I am on page 51, and have been struck already with how -- for lack of a better word -- catty they are about other designers and gardens. I am happy to read their ideas for what makes a garden beautiful, but I can do without their references to, for instance, a native plant garden director "piously" sharing her opinions with them (which they obviously didn't share) or statements like "[i]nsensitivity to this plant's spirit is exemplified by a planting along the south side of an east-west path at a prominent botanic garden". I am hoping this attitude will settle down as I progress through the book. It's very jarring to be reading their peaceful, nature-driven, perhaps even dare I say, "hippy-like" writing, and then have them suddenly stop to take a swipe at another designer or garden or gardening theory. Doing that exhibits the same arrogance for which they denigrate others.
I'll update as I continue through the book.
UPDATE: So it's November and I'm only at page 117. I kinda sorta took the spring/summer/fall off to actually go in my garden, instead of reading about them. I must say that I think the cattiness dropped off some, or perhaps just became broader comments, rather than swipes at particular gardens/designers. I am a little disappointed, though, that I haven't learned much more. I guess when I bought the book I was thinking it would be a little more instructional in terms of HOW to make your garden look natural, once you have the right plants. My problem is trying to figure out spacing and doing those "drifts" that are always talked about, but never laid out on a page to clearly see a diagram of how many plants in what section, how far apart from the next plant, how to intersperse different plants so they look like they have naturally drifted into each other. Yes, I know, it's nature, but there's math and patterning in the natural world, too.
The book is a curious mix of broad gardening/nature concepts, interspersed with charts of specific types of plants (eg, "big-and bold-leaved plants"). The charts aren't as helpful as you might think, though, because most are not broken down into zones, light, water needs, etc, so you would have to go through the whole list and google them to find ones that might work in your garden. I did find their insert about Koppen Zones interesting, but my interest was purely academic, because they don't really discuss the zones in the body of the book, or separate out certain comments for certain zones.
So, now that the cooler weather is upon us, I hope to finish up this book soon, if for no other reason than to finish this review so I don't have to think about the "comment" the author saw fit to attach to my review. Talk about spoiling any good vibes... I'll update again when I'm done with the book.