I love garden maps. I think every book or article about gardens should include a map of the garden. Even a quick sketch with crayons tells the reader so much about the relationship of the various areas of the garden to each other, and serves to orient the reader better than numerous confusing words trying to describe the layout. A picture is worth more than a thousand words in this case.
There are two types of garden maps: topographical maps (the regular sort of map in which the viewer is looking straight down from above) and pictorial maps (also called illustrated, perspective or bird's-eye maps, in which the viewer sees the objects depicted from an oblique view). Pictorial maps are far more interesting to look at and are often beautiful works of art, requiring artistic skill to draw or paint. I would love to be able to make one of these, but I fear my drawing skill might not be up to the task.
I'd like to share a few of my favorite garden maps, drawings and plans that I've run across in books and online, maps of real gardens as well as of fictional ones:
|Another literary illustration, this time from the incredibly charming children's book, "Miss Jaster's Garden" by Danish author and illustrator N. M. Bodecker. It's a beautifully silly story featuring a near-sighted lady gardener and a hedgehog who lives in her garden.|
|The illustration of Beverley Nichol's garden in "Down the Garden Path,"|
published in 1932. The annotations and labels pique the viewer's curiosity to
learn more about these gardens and the stories behind them.
I love 1930s formal gardens!
|Here's another view of Nichol's entire garden, showing the lovely illustrations around the perimeter of the map. The drawing was done by artist Rex Whistler.|
|One of the very finest modern garden maps done in a classic style is that painted by Jonathan Myles Lea for Roy Strong's Herefordshire, England garden, The Laskett. His book of the same title is one of the best books about making a garden that I have read, and one I return to again and again. I love that the gardeners and their cats have been portrayed in such memorable fashion around the title legend.|
|An architectural plan for Kansas City's Municipal Rose Garden, from the 1930s. This might not technically be a garden map, but it's so enjoyable to look at that I had to include it. (Library of American Landscape History )|
|The beautifully illustrated map of Burtown House and gardens, a historic property that has been owned by three generations of artists, in County Kildare, Ireland. The map was painted in watercolor by artist Rosalind Jellet and the depiction is lovely, with multi-hued flowers and the fresh greens of late spring captured for posterity. Also, the labels of the various areas, like those of Nichols' gardens above, tell us the garden area names and also make us curious: Who is Wendy? Just how new is the New Garden? What is the Gallery-Cafe about? The Burtown House website offers a fascinating look at the history of a lovely Irish property and the generations of the family that has inhabited it -- and check out the Gallery for some breathtaking garden photographs by James Fennell, a professional photographer and resident at Burtown House, who generously permitted me to share this beautiful map. Another place to add to my list of places I want to visit when I finally make a trip to the ancestral homeland!|
|The garden plan for Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., one of the United States' finest gardens. Although the map itself is done in a topographical format, the perimeter is surrounded by vignette drawings of numerous features of the gardens, which were designed in the 1920s and 1930s by Beatrix Ferrand.|
|Lastly, this is an amusing garden map done as an advertisement for Whiskas cat food. It purports to be a guide map to the untamed wilderness of a backyard, from a housecat's perspective. Quite funny! |
(From the imaginative work of leading British advertising agency AMVDDBO.)
I'm surprised that a book has not been published that features the art of garden maps from history and today. Perhaps I should publish such a book -- I'll add it to the list of projects I have already, the first of which will be to update my own garden map, even though it will be a far cry from these beautiful works of art. I'd better start working on my drawing skills!
Thanks for reading! -Beth