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On Garden Style

By day, Bunny Williams is one of New York's most successful interior designers, a woman whose hours are filled with high-powered meetings, magazine photo shoots, and detailed consultations with clients. But when the week shades into Friday evening, Bunny can be found in the idyllic retreat of her Connecticut garden, the emotional center of her life and the source of perhaps her greatest creative efforts. After five days at the top of the design world, nothing means more to this warm and brilliant woman than to spend the next two with her hands in the dirt, musing about the effect of trees and flowers, paths and benches.

The passion Bunny feels for her garden is a deep one shared by countless others -- in the country, in the suburbs, and even in the city. Gardening has become America's favorite pastime, but its vocabulary remains intimidating, even to those fluent in the language of style and design. Applying the lessons we've learned about interior space to the outdoors is a good idea, but it doesn't work without help: before we can decorate the outdoor room we need to understand its character, and few people can guide us to that understanding Bunny Williams.

Style and sophistication are the central issues here, just as they were when The Silver Palate, Martha Stewart, and even Julia Child first convinced Americans that they could entertain and cook and decorate with panache. Gardening with style is also possible for everyone, Bunny insists, and she proceeds to show us how to think about context, the texture of foliage, and the pattern of the garden. This is not a botanical or technical manual, nor is it a dream book filled with lovely pictures and little information. Instead, Bunny has created a garden-design style book with significant practical content and an extraordinary sense of its own style -- an aesthetic how-to, as it were, with fresh, surprising, and attainable.

"On Garden Style" elevates our aesthetic sense, introducing both novice and experienced gardeners to new ways of thinking about style, form, ornament, and the look and feel of a garden, even as it allows us to appreciate the small details inherent in the placement of a watering can, the texture of a stone path, or the color of a hedge backing an old wooden bench. While other gardening books provide us with the basics of growing and nurturing plants or the elements of landscape design, this stunningly designed volume shows us how to fill our gardens with nuance, personality, and true style.

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