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Garden Makeovers: The Complete Guide to Renovating Your Garden

Garden Makeovers: The Complete Guide to Renovating Your Garden
Liz Dobbs and Sarah Woods
Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books
Publication Date: 

cloth, 224 p., $29.95

Though Time-Life Books has contributed classics to the gardening genre, this volume may best benefit the compost heap. Its Achilles heel is both its intention and execution. In promising to salvage failed gardens, this publication suffers from what it attempts to correct.

Consider the multitude of garden challenges listed in the table of contents. Sadly, once on task, every element of design and content here conspires against reasonable expectations. Competing graphics blink on and off like traffic signals. A confused layout results in far too many uninspiring photographs clamoring for attention. Analysis and advice share the tone of self-help columns in teen magazines. Major issues, which professionals may devote a lifetime to address, are "answered" in a paragraph or two.

What makes garden design and culture wonderful is that there are no easy, standardized answers to complicated situations. Gardens awe and instruct us in their idiosyncrasies. These makeovers would have us believe you can transform "A Dull Shape" in three quick steps. With gardening by numbers, there is no joy in Muddville. Not recommended.

— Julie Siegel, Contributing Writer, Landscape Designer and Master Gardener at the Chicago Botanic Garden.