Federal Twist is set on a ridge above the Delaware River in western New Jersey. It is a naturalistic garden that has no utilitarian or leisure uses and the site is not an obvious choice for a garden (heavy clay soil, poorly drained: quick death for any plants not ecologically suited to it).
The physical garden, its plants and its features, is of course an appealing and pleasant place to be but Federal Twist’s real charm and significance lie in its intangible aspects: its changing qualities and views, the moods and emotions it evokes, and its distinctive character and sense of place.
This book charts the author’s journey in making such a garden. How he made a conscious decision not to improve the land, planted competitive plants into rough grass, experimented with sustainable plant communities. And how he worked with light to provoke certain moods and allowed the energy of the place, chance, and randomness to have its say.
Part experimental horticulturist and part philosopher, James Golden has written an important book for ecological gardeners and anyone interested in exploring the relationship between gardens, nature, and ourselves.
PUBLISHED BY FILBERT PRESS
What a glorious garden!! And an equally glorious book that had me captivated by the photos and the insightful writing which really helps you understand the journey that the owner made with the garden and how he has transformed it under his ownership! And what a stunning job he has made of it too!
The garden is in New Jersey, USA and has some testing conditions to deal with, but he has taken his time and put in a lot of research to find the best plants to use in the situations – a lesson for us all! I really enjoyed seeing how he approached the garden in terms of design and planning and loved hearing about the history of the area and landscape. And considering he had no background in gardening, it was fascinating to read that he learnt as he went along!
It’s a truly ‘natural’ looking garden and the photos are spectacular in showing this aspect off. The garden has many ‘pauses’ in it, places where you can sit and take in your surroundings, and that’s what I found with this book too. It sets things out really nicely allowing the reader to ‘pause’ as they read and take in the photography, the plant names as a helpful guide and taking time to notice the changes over a year with different light and changes in the plants. It really is an immersive garden and one that makes you forget the outside world! Very much needed during these times!
This is one of those glorious books that gives me garden envy as I’d adore to have a garden as beautiful like this, but the photos and plant lists allow you to take little ideas to put into action in your own plot and I found it to be such a restful read that it was just a wonderful experience from start to finish!