The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage by David L. Culp with Adam Levine

The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage
by David L. Culp with Adam Levine
(Timber Press, 2012)

LayeredGarden Culpa

It is not unusual for an accomplished gardener with experience and plant knowledge to write a gardening book. Yet David Culp’s book, The Layered Garden, is special. Culp, a sales consultant, plant researcher, and vice president at Sunny Border Nurseries in Kensington, Connecticut, tells the story of how he and his partner Michael Alderfer developed and maintain their luscious home landscape at Brandywine Cottage in Pennsylvania’s Brandywine River Valley. Culp, who also teaches courses at nearby Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, designed a garden that displays his extraordinary plant collection to advantage while honoring the plain, eighteenth-century farmhouse in which he and Alderfer live.

Culp and co-writer Adam Levine write in a gently descriptive, conversational voice that lures readers into the garden. Once there, we are in awe of its beauty, thanks to the breathtaking photography of Rob Cardillo. His images embellish almost every spread, showing us not only overall views of the landscape but also garden close-ups and galleries of individual plants.

Although Culp weaves insightful lessons such as snowdrop culture and coping with deer into the book’s four chapters, this is not a how-to book for beginners. His garden is complex and so is his detailed and expansive concept of layering. For me, The Layered Garden is a pleasing combination of gardening autobiography, meditation on beauty, and coffee table book. If you do not have a garden now, you will want to start one after reading this book.

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