Rebecca Sweet, the Northern California garden designer known for her ability to creatively transform ordinary outdoor spaces into balanced, living works of art, released a new book last month. And, as expected, it’s as useful as she is talented. In a quick e-mail interview with editor Shannon Roxborough, the dynamic designer dishes on her latest work.
From garden shows and seminars to the pages of Horticulture and Sunset, designer and blogger Rebecca Sweet, it seems, is everywhere. Two years ago, she helped fuel a trend in the horticulture world as co-author of the best-selling book, “Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces.” And now, she has penned Refresh Your Garden Design With Color, Texture & Form, a thorough how-to guide loaded with helpful advice to unleash the hidden designer in you. Her keen design sense sprouts from its smartly-written and richly-photographed pages, helping gardeners to overcome their reluctance to take on design projects and inspiring can-do confidence when tackling them.
Q. Why did you decide to write this book?
A. As a garden designer, my business is divided into two main categories: creating comprehensive landscape plans and hourly consulting. And after consulting with literally hundreds of gardeners over the years, one of the most common complaints I’ve heard is a sense of frustration at the lack of harmony that has crept into their gardens. While they might have been happy with their gardens at one point, something happened over the years and they don’t know how to identify what has gone wrong or how to fix the problem. They’re frustrated because they don’t want to rip out their gardens and start from scratch or hire a team of professionals to come in and take over. Instead, they just want to enjoy the process of refreshing their garden again, but are unsure where to begin.
I decided to write this book to help gardeners everywhere learn how to look at their garden with fresh eyes to identify its problem spots, and how to specifically go about refreshing their garden’s design. I emphasize the word ‘specifically’ because instead of writing about design theory followed by one beautiful photo at the end, I want to show how to create these transformations using a series of photos to help illustrate my points. My goal is to help gardeners enjoy the process of refreshing their garden’s design while transforming it into the garden of their dreams.
A. My main objective with this book is to give gardeners a sense of empowerment, an excited feeling of ‘A-ha! I can do this!’ After reading my book, if I’ve given a frustrated gardener a newly found sense of confidence then I’ve succeeded.
A. If I had only one piece of advice for gardeners I’d say to have fun experimenting with your own outside-the-box ideas. Don’t be timid and don’t worry about making mistakes. Just enjoy the process of creating!
Shannon Roxborough is the editor-in-chief of Garden Variety.