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on 21 December 2009
I've just put my paperback copy of this book on the market (only because I've moved into another field of work) and thought I'd just check out what people were saying about it. I was surprised at the emotion it seems to have created and the extremes of opinion regarding its content!

I bought it at Chelsea a few years ago, and spent quite a time skimming through it to check its usefulness and relevance as it was quite expensive. I agree with the comments made about it (both good and bad), including the bit about the 'money orientated' emphasis in the foreword etc. But I would also have to add that this book is definitely worth buying - I was taking my degree when I bought it, but would also say it is an asset to the working designer too.

It is one of the few landscape/garden design books that really goes through contracts (unless you want to go into Spon-like detail) as well as having an equally useful (and inspiring) approach to planting styles and impact. The drawings are very detailed and can be used as a good template or example of layouts, symbols etc. The writing style is fresh and has energy, as well as being very readable, unlike a lot of the stuff you're given to read.

All in all, I would put this book in the top 10 of my collection (of over 300+ books) and found myself picking it up or pulling out useful bits of information on loads of projects. I can't see what all the fuss is about - I would definitely recommend it!
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on 30 September 1999
"This book fills a gap hitherto surprisingly neglected by Landscape Professionals: it aims to provide a simple, direct and concise introduction to what can appear to be a vast and daunting subject, especially so to those on an introductory course or for new practitioners continuing their professional development"^Åand so begins one of the most insultingly patronising books on the subject I have ever read. I first became interested in Landscape Design in the 1930's, inspired by a family friend and the first President of the Landscape Institute, Thomas Mawson. It was a labour of love, an inspirational hobby which you could, if you were fortunate, receive remuneration for. There were no such things as Landscape Architects then and we had no need for books to tell us what was good design. We certainly had no need for books containing chapters entitled "Earning a living in a tough world". The very fact that the author needs to include such a chapter worries me. We should not be encouraging today's youth to padlock their BMX bicycles and become landscape designers because of the financial rewards.
A book is a labour of love. It should not be published until it is perfect in the author's eyes. In the preface of this book however, the author seems to be instantly excusing himself; "It is because landscape design is such an immense subject that this book cannot claim to be a complete guide and the space available for each section is limited." That is like a student saying to a lecturer on the day of a review, "I have deliberately kept the scheme simple" when really they were up until one o'clock the previous morning having been dancing at a disco and eating drugs. Does the author really think that 26 lines even begins to cover the subject of colour, even if space is limited.
This book caters for nobody in particular. It is too waffly to be a serious use to any but the most pompous student; "^Åby abstracting it and conceptualizing it, the designer is able to break away from the preconception of the subject" and "Concepts like beauty and quality are phenomena somehow encountered on life^Òs leading edge, as our senses (and perhaps souls) literally cut through time, like the stylus point on a record groove, amplifying raw creativity". Nor is the book any use whatsoever for the serious professional. It is too lightweight and flippant; "tall-growing, evergreen shrubs can be used for structure planting", "Walls can be made from many materials, such as brick or stone", "where access is required between two different levels, steps can be used".
Whilst this constitutes my initial gut reaction I have sent a more in-depth review to The Landscape Institutes journal Landscape Design (as I have many times previously) under the title ^ÓIn which direction has the legacy late 80's Thatcherite greed taken Landscape Architecture in the 90's ?^Ô With their apparent endorsement within the book, I wait with interest to see whether I shall be published this time.
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on 14 September 1999
I've been working at the sharp end of the Landscape Industry for 10 or so years now and have to say I am most impressed by this wonderful book. The way the prose flows and darts like a young gazelle through the serengetti shows this to be a work of some literary genius. I recall whilst studying at Otley college of Agriculture the books one could buy or borrow that made the study of this noble art a drudge, many had out of date sentiments focussing on arkane Jellicoesque nonsense relating to the unrelenting use of bark chippings regardless of the situation - not this book! Some would patronise the reader by telling them how to sharpen pencils or use a rubber - no such padding out here! The well thought out and up-to-date theories on design make this a truly ground breaking book. I look forward to visiting some of the Author's schemes to see just how he has put some of this excellent theory into practice. A sharp, well illustrated and often very witty insight into front garden design, well done James Blake!
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on 14 September 1999
I am a first year student of Landscape design at the University of Sheffield and have just spent my last food money for the month on this book and have to say that I am very pleased, if a little confused at the book's content.
I am glad to hear that "....Landscape design is an easily acheivable career and can be mastered by most students by the end of their first year at college, all that is required is a list of 12plants and the ability to tell yellow from white". The author uses pets and farm animals as part of his metaphors to great effect - ".. describe a rabbit, small grey and soft..." - "..a hedge is like a herd of cows..." - "...variegated plants are just like hamsters....". I think, however that the prolonged study of how different plants and materials can induce nasty skin complaints and other allergies was unnecessary. In short, a easily digestible book with alot of interesting content, sometimes straying from the point. I reccommend it.
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on 22 November 2016
Received the book within a week which is very fast. The book is in very good condition and a great help with my landscape design study. It explains in details which is essential for beginners.
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on 23 December 2015
Great speedy service, good price
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on 24 November 2015
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on 14 September 1999
I don't like being made to feel stupid, but this time it has been a blessing in disguise.
For years now, I have been using a clutch pencil, but with a B grade lead, not an H as recommended in this Landscape Bible.
Also, I have been using razor blades without taking any care. Hopefully having read this book, my regular blood transfusions can stop.
Call me stupid, but I have been holding my plans to the drawing board using 5cm lengths of masking tape, not the recommended 3cm.
Drawing circles? Well, up until now I have been using baked bean tins, cotton reels, smarties etc, depending on the size required. I have now bought myself a circle template.
Since reading Mr Blake's book and taking his well considered advice, the work has flooded in. I almost feel as if I should give him a percentage.
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