Book Reviews

Book Review: The Good Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Edmund Hollander Design

December 9, 2015


The Good Garden 5in-2
According to landscape architect Edmund Hollander, “a powerful landscape unfolds like a story” with a narrative of sequenced, choreographed movements transitioning the public to the private realm. Here “your land is your home, and within that home is the house”, whose material culture of wood, brick and stone is animated by plant materials.

The Good Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Edmund Hollander Design, details how that story is told from a landscape perspective using a holistic design process that integrates ecology, cultural history and a sense of place.


For Edmund Hollander Design that place is, by and large, located within 200 miles of New York City where for more than twenty-five years he, and his business partner, Maryanne Connolly have practiced. While they maintain a robust list of international clients, it is within this particular geography that they have created hundreds of landscapes, rooted in the distinctive ecology of the region.

Deeply influenced by Ian McHarg, the Scottish landscape architect and regional planner who founded the department of landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania where Hollander and Connelly met as students, their work employs an ecological approach to every project. This is informed by three elements: nature, including topography, soil and climate; human, or the way in which a client “pictures”living on the property; and architectural, including the house and related built structures.

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Elegantly designed and exquisitely photographed in full-color, The Good Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Edmund Hollander Design features a selection of the firm’s private gardens from throughout the Northeast. These are thematically arranged according to individual design elements. Chapters are devoted to plantings that complement architecture, plants as architecture, specialty gardens, and landscapes inspired by nature.


Within each chapter are subheadings that explore design elements and principles, providing a framework for landscape design and a reference for the home gardener. These range from the intimate (gateways, stairs and pathways) to the landscape scale (dunes, meadows, shorelines, woodlands and greenswards). For each a series of annotated photographs provides additional detail and planting information.

Written in collaboration with New York Times and Landscape Architecture columnist Anne Raver, The Good Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Edmund Hollander Design is a beautiful book filled with beautiful landscapes designed in an environmentally sensitive manner for a very particular clientele, with the financial resources to maintain them. With nary a leaf out of place they provide the ultimate gardening fantasy.


Try as I might I could not find any direct reference explaining how the book’s title, “The Good Garden” was chosen. Hollander’s purports that the ability to “shape the landscape as a whole separates the landscape architect from the gardener” with a successful landscape based “primarily on the spatial quality that is created and the use of plants to shape spaces, particularly as you get away from building architecture.” Perhaps that’s good enough.

The Good Garden: The Landscape Architecture of Edmund Hollander Design
By Edmund Hollander and Anne Raver, with principal photography by Charles Mayer
Monacelli Press: 2015

All Photos © Charles Mayer. Courtesy of The Monacelli Press.

This review appeared in Leaflet A Massachusetts Horticultural Society Publication, December, 2015.

Copyright © 2015 Patrice Todisco — All Rights Reserved


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