Spirit: Garden Inspiration


Spirit: Garden Inspiration


This very personal collection of writing, illustrated with his own photographs, explores the sources of inspiration behind Dan’s work. It reveals his response to landscapes both natural and designed, and the people, places, buildings, artworks and experiences that have inspired him.


'I've been waiting for Dan Pearson's new book since I first heard about it several months ago. What a surprise !  Dan, just about every one's favorite garden designer of the moment, has written a highly collaborative new book that has almost nothing to say about garden design. At least not directly. It is a beautifully produced book ... not a flashy coffee table tome, but a piece of fine, understated craftsmanship. The medium is the message, so to speak. The book is about the source of inspiration for gardens ... a very romantic notion ... in sense of place. It's a book of stories, tellings of visits to particular people in particular places, bits of autobiography with emotional background - a book about feeling, sensitivity to place, memories, things learned. I had anticipated not a "how to" of garden design, but a book about Dan's gardens (and I'd still love to see that book). But this one is so much finer for its difference from the expected. Spirit is quite Japanese in its method. It points a direction, like a finger lifted in silence, then leaves it to the reader to make the connections. It's also an enjoyable read, one for contemplative moments, quiet times, but, surprisingly, it moves the reader along quickly, from story to story (who doesn't like a book of short, image strewn stories?).'

James Golden, The View from Federal Twist Blog, October 2009

'Books written by garden designers can often turn out to be ersatz portfolios meant to promote the author’s own projects for posterity’s sake. English landscape designer Dan Pearson has written a new book that does quite the opposite.

Spirit: Garden Inspiration is a gentle ramble not through Mr. Pearson’s many projects, but through his mind and life as a gardener and garden-maker. The unifying narrative thread can be hard to follow, mainly due to the sparse or sometimes nonexistent photo captions. But it is this impressionistic approach that makes this ethereal book stand apart from its more workaday how-to counterparts. “I think none of us spend enough time looking,” Mr. Pearson said. “I wanted to encourage subtlety whether is was a garden, a time, a place, a sculpture or a piece of architecture.”

Seen as a group, the photographs of gardens, art and landscapes, mainly taken by Mr. Pearson around the world over the past couple of decades, focus his creative eye into something that lies between the introverted style of a diary and the best, most idiosyncratic aspects of a blog given permanence between hard covers.'

Stephen Orr
, The New York Times, 12 November 2009

'Dan Pearson's new book is a thoughtful meditation on the elements that combine to create spirit of place. His thesis is straightforward: that learning to look is a gardener's most important lesson. And that taking the time to simply stand and stare will allow inspiration and revelation to 'bubble up to the surface'. Pearson is well known as a garden designer and writer; the images in the book reveal that he is also an accomplished photographer. Woven within the book's text are reminders of the importance that creating and nurturing gardens and landscapes can have for people. The book underlines the truth that how we garden, and our relationship to gardens and landscape, are crucial elements in creating the particular spirit of a place. As much biographical as it is philosophical, this is a swatchbook of the memories, emotions, sounds and images that have guided Pearson's work. It's a model for the kind of record that we should all keep; an archive to help make us better gardeners. If you haven't got your own, you couldn't do better than use Dan Pearson's.'

John Hoyland in Gardens Illustrated, November 2009


Buy the book here
Hear Dan speak about the book here