The View from Federal Twist: A New Way of Thinking About Gardens, Nature and Ourselves by James Golden
Federal Twist is set on a ridge above the Delaware River in western New Jersey, USA. It is a naturalistic garden that has loose boundaries and integrates closely with the natural world that surrounds it. It has no utilitarian or leisure uses (no play areas, swimming pools or outdoor dining) 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. Monty Don commented after his visit, it made me rethink what a garden can be and do.
This book charts the author's journey in making such a garden. How he made a conscious decision not to improve the land, planted large, competitive plants into rough grass, experimented with seeding to develop 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 naturalistic and ecological gardeners and anyone interested in exploring the relationship between gardens, nature and ourselves.