3 August 2015
A new book: The Gardens of Arne Maynard
Gardening for Arne has allowed me a glimpse into the workings of a major garden design business and I have found it fascinating. Arne has enormous amounts of energy and ideas spark from him like an electric current; it's deeply impressive and can be a little intimidating. Arne's team of designers, plants people and project managers systematically turn his inspiration and ideas into reality. It's all done with such efficiency that you can easily forget the complex precision that each project requires.
On arriving at Allt-y-bela just over a year ago I began to hear individual projects being discussed by Arne and the team. Names including Kingsmead Mill, Bowling Green and Haddon Hall were regularly mentioned, along with a whole host of others; I was impatient to hear about them all and perhaps visit some along the way!
The other great work which has been progressing alongside all of Arne's current projects has been his new book. That too has been fascinating to watch develop and catch little snapshots of the process.
The Gardens of Arne Maynard features a choice selection of Arne's most mature projects and explains how he has designed, built and then maintained them. It takes you from the client brief through Arne's design process to completion and beyond with achingly beautiful photography showing the gardens not just at their peak in midsummer but throughout the seasons. The book perfectly illustrates how the different design elements work through the year and because Arne has purposefully avoided editing out deadheads and misplaced tools, it is a celebration of gardens as they truly are and how we actually experience and garden them.
In addition to the main garden chapters are subchapters of garden essentials; these are elements that have become signatures in Arne's gardens and include kitchen gardens, roses, topiary and craftsmanship. These subchapters give the book a truly authentic feel.
I have watched this book progress since I started gardening here. As with any book, it has been a labour of love and one which has taken a whole team of people to produce. One of the most exciting times I can remember was seeing the studio table, which is a good 14 feet long, covered in photographs for Arne to sort though and decide which ones to use in the book. I remember the weather was horrible - a true mid-winter day - but the studio was warm, light and alive with activity. I couldn't help but come in to enjoy watching the process and to shelter from the dull, cold garden.
Another day that sticks in my mind was when the cover photograph was being chosen. With such wonderful photography throughout the book it was difficult enough to whittle it down to a choice of three, let alone choose a final image. It was a privilege to hear and to be a very minor part of the discussions.
The garden at Allt-y-bela is featured in the new book and my great hope was that some of the pictures of the garden would have been taken during my time gardening here. I'm thrilled to say that there are quite a few! As a gardener there is nothing that gives me greater satisfaction than seeing my work really appreciated and there cannot be a greater reward than having your work featured in such a beautiful book!
The first advance copies of the new book arrived here a week or so ago and I can't tell you how excited we all were to finally see it. I'm pleased to report that it is every bit a gorgeous as we all hoped it would be. With its release day set for September 10th I have to admit to having put my name down for four copies! They aren't all for me! It's worth noting that if you order them through Arne's website they will be signed by Arne and will include an exclusive bookmark. Something tells me he is going to be spending an awful lot of time signing books this autumn!
Words: Steve Lannin, Head Gardener at Allt-y-bela
Photographs: Britt Dyer and William Collinson
You can pre-order signed copies of the book here (UK orders only).
The book will be published by Merrell on 10 September 2015 and will be widely available in the UK, USA and Canada.