Practices between Landscape Architecture and Gardening

By Julian Raxworthy

Foreword by Fiona Harrisson

A call for landscape architects to leave the office and return to the garden.





A call for landscape architects to leave the office and return to the garden.

Addressing one of the most repressed subjects in landscape architecture, this book could only have been written by someone who is both an experienced gardener and a landscape architect. With Overgrown, Julian Raxworthy offers a watershed work in the tradition of Ian McHarg, Anne Whiston Spirn, Kevin Lynch, and J. B. Jackson.

As a discipline, landscape architecture has distanced itself from gardening, and landscape architects take pains to distinguish themselves from gardeners or landscapers. Landscape architects tend to imagine gardens from the office, representing plants with drawings or other simulations, whereas gardeners work in the dirt, in real time, planting, pruning, and maintaining. In Overgrown, Raxworthy calls for the integration of landscape architecture and gardening. Each has something to offer the other: Landscape architecture can design beautiful spaces, and gardening can enhance and deepen the beauty of garden environments over time. Growth, says Raxworthy, is the medium of garden development; landscape architects should leave the office and go into the garden in order to know growth in an organic, nonsimulated way.

Raxworthy proposes a new practice for working with plant material that he terms “the viridic” (after “the tectonic” in architecture), from the Latin word for green, with its associations of spring and growth. He builds his argument for the viridic through six generously illustrated case studies of gardens that range from “formal” to “informal” approaches—from a sixteenth-century French Renaissance water garden to a Scottish poet-scientist's “marginal” garden, barely differentiated from nature. Raxworthy argues that landscape architectural practice itself needs to be “gardened,” brought back into the field. He offers a “Manifesto for the Viridic” that casts designers and plants as vegetal partners in a renewed practice of landscape gardening.


$29.95 T ISBN: 9780262038539 392 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 149 color illus


Fiona Harrisson.


  • Overgrown is a compelling and visually engaging testament that gardens and gardening informed by horticulture and design are central activities of landscape architecture. Raxworthy tells the stories of both great and everyday gardens and the reciprocal relationships between designed landscapes, plants, and people. It will inspire future generations of professionals and should be read by all concerned with creating meaningful landscapes.

    Mark Francis

    FASLA, Professor of Landscape Architecture Emeritus, University of California, Davis, and coeditor of The Meaning of Gardens

  • In Overgrown, Julian Raxworthy calls for a radical rethinking of landscape design theory and practice and offers a set of principles to guide us. This provocative, important, and original book is required reading for landscape architects and for all who care about plants and design.

    Anne Whiston Spirn

    author of The Language of Landscape

  • Rooted deeply in history and practice, this erudite study addresses courageously the enduring tension between gardening and design. A major book.

    John Stilgoe

    Robert and Lois Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape Development, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; author of What Is Landscape?