on 11 May 2007
Thank you for your interest in my book. Before I start, I'd like to bring your attention to a book review entitled "A New Take on Planting Design" by Jane Berger, Editor & Publisher of gardendesignonline and a book review entitled "An especially 'reader friendly' and practical guide" by Midwest Book Review. I posted these reviews in the cusomer discussion session below. I think you may find them helpful.
Book review entitled "An astonishingly detailed, extremely good book" by Tim Bigby:
"Gang Chen's book is a little masterpiece. It's definitely NOT a coffee-table book--it's the book you would want to actually read and follow in order for your plantings to resemble those you'd find in a coffee-table book! He delves into three thousand years of planting and garden design theory in order to illustrate the concepts and principles. The illustrations, in black and white, are more useful than anything I've ever seen in gardening or outdoor design books done in four-color. The amount of information and guidance in this book is really hard to properly explain in a review, it's that overwhelmingly good. I HIGHLY recommend this book, to both professional designers and 'lay gardeners' who just want to figure out how to plant their own back yards."
Book review entitled "New information" by Jan Whitner, Editor of the Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin:
"As a long time consumer of gardening books, I am impressed with Gang Chen's inclusion of new information on planting design theory for Chinese and Japanese gardens. Many gardening books discuss the beauty of Japanese gardens, and a few discuss the unique charms of Chinese gardens, but this one explains how Japanese and Chinese history, geography and artistic traditions bear on the development of each country's style. The material on traditional western garden planting is thorough and inspiring, too. 'Planting Design Illustrated' definitely rewards repeated reading and study; any garden designer will read it with profit."
Book review by Mary Lou T. Rocca:
"This is a terrific book! What a nice suprise. Between all of the different areas of design covered, the pictures and the illustrations, I find myself reading it again and again and learning something new each time. The reference sections are also very useful and make everything so easy to understand. So many levels of those interested in Planting Design would find it helpful in many ways."
Book review entitled "An information-rich planting design book" by C. J. Kaiser:
"I enjoyed reading this book, especially the part comparing Chinese Gardens with Japanese Gardens and English Gardens. This book covers extensive information on planting design. I can see Mr. Chen put a lot of efforts and research into the subject and did an excellent job. It is also enjoyable to read the book as the pictures and the illustrations help me to understand any subjects discussed."
Book review by Jed:
"This book is extremely organized and well done. It sets up the fundamental framework of planting design. Not only does it discuss some commonly used plant materials in various gardens, it also uncovers universal principles and truth for planting design. Chen raises the bar by introducing plants' symbolic meanings into the planting design. The plant lists at the end of the book make it practical to apply the plants' symbolic meanings in landscaping."
The following is my own review:
Most of the existing books on landscaping or planting design are pretty boring. This book actually makes the subject of planting design interesting. I think many of you will like it. It is not only informative, enlightening, but also entertaining. Several people who read the manuscript told me that once they started to read, they were so impressed and they just kept on reading until they finished it.
It is also a very practical book. It can really help the people who want to learn about planting design and how it is done in professional landscape practice. An e-book version of my book is also available at Outskirts Press web site as listed above, right under the header of this review. The following are some excerpts from my book:
Mr. Donald B., FASLA, CEO and Chairman of a well-known landscape design firm, accidentally read a copy of my original manuscript on planting design. He was amazed by what he read and encouraged me to seek the possibilities of getting the manuscript published. I never knew Donald before. He requested a friend of mine (an employee of his firm from whom he got a copy of my manuscript) to set up a lunch meeting with me. He told me in that meeting that he could not describe how impressed he was by my manuscript, and he felt like he had found a hidden treasure and loved to let others know about it and share it. He thought it was too good a piece to be left sitting on the shelf, and considered it to be a much needed piece in the field of planting design education and practice. In fact, he loved the manuscript so much that he requested my authorization for his firm to reproduce 6 copies of the manuscript for its in-house use. He also requested the every designer in his firm to read my manuscript and use the principles and concepts in their design.
Donald's firm is a well-known landscape design firm that designed many landscape projects in Las Vegas and other places, including Mirage Hotel, Bellagio Hotel, etc. Donald is a well-respected landscape architect and has over 50 years of experience in Landscape Design. He is a Fellow of American Society of Landscape Architects (FASLA, the most honorable and highest level of member of ASLA). His encouragement really gave me more confidence in trying to get my manuscript modified and published as a book.
I expanded my original manuscript to cover a broader range of gardens and added some basic but practical elements of planting design to meet the needs of a broader mainstream audience. Previous publications on various gardens treated them as isolated dots. I used planting design as a major linkage to connect the discussions of various styles of gardens in many different countries. I tried to connect the dots and find both differences and interactions. I compared different garden styles and noted the unique aspect of each garden style and its planting design but also tried to discover and generalize the common principles and concepts. I discussed design history, but not for history's sake. The purpose is to find out how we can learn from history and use it in our practice today. I have analyzed historical development, framework, underlying principles and major trends of various gardens and their planting design, with special attention to their potential use in modern landscape practice and planting design. If you have little knowledge of planting design, you will have a good understanding of the framework of planting design after you read this book. Even though you may not understand everything that you read at first, you will remember where the information is and can always come back to the section later after you gain more knowledge in landscape architecture. I also tried to look at the contemporary landscape education and practice from the angle of planting design, and tried to introduce landscape practice and planting design to ordinary readers...
Planting design is the arrangement of plants to achieve the best aesthetic, functional, ecological and symbolic effect. Even though there are a variety of garden styles in the world, gardening and planting design can be put into two major landscaping systems: formal gardens and naturalistic gardens...
...garden and planting design are not solely visual arts. They also involve the senses of hearing, smelling, touching, etc. Besides this, the seasonal and weather changes (spring, summer, autumn, winter, rain, snow, overcast or sunny day, etc.) can change the "Yi Jing" of the space and deeply influence the feeling of people. All these factors affect the garden indirectly with plants as their media...
...Planting design, like other kinds of art, is a cumulative process. We not only need to bring forward new ideas, but also need to inherit from the past. The challenge for us is not whether we should learn from history, but how to learn from history, how to differentiate what is constant and timeless and what is temporary and only has academic value...
Gang Chen, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Author of "Planting Design Illustrated," "LEED GA Exam Guide," "Architectural Practice Simplified," and other books on various LEED exams, architecture, and landscape architecture