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Required Reading: ‘Visionary’ by Clare Takacs with Giacomo Guzzon


Required Reading: ‘Visionary’ by Clare Takacs with Giacomo Guzzon

May 9, 2024

In the introduction to her epic new book, Visionary; Gardens and Landscapes for our Future, photographer Clare Takacs admits that in 2021 she set out to shoot only 30 to 40 gardens across the Mediterranean for the book. Instead the project, co-created with landscape architect Giacomo Guzzon, turned into an odyssey of sorts, with almost 80 gardens shot from Carmel Valley, California, to The Dandenongs in Australia, close to where she grew up.

The book showcases the way that garden design is attempting to keep pace with climate change and how it can respond to or mitigate the effects of prolonged drought, record-breaking temperatures, flooding, and extreme rainfall on our gardens. It’s a sumptuous survey of resilient garden design right now; the results are inspiring and thought-provoking, and illustrate how nature can thrive even in the most hostile environments.

Below, a peek at just a few of the magnificent gardens featured.

Photography by Clare Takacs, from Visionary; Gardens and Landscapes for our Future.

Above: In the Toledo garden, in Talavera de la Reina, Spain, designer Fernando Martos uses a limited palette and an understated approach to link this garden to the wider landscape. Enclosed by a curving dry stone wall, the garden features large boulders dotted around low-rise buildings and a farmhouse. The planting includes species that can cope with the exceptionally harsh environment including Euphorbia seguieriana, Stachys byzantina, Achillea tomentosa, Phlomis viscosa, and prostrate rosemary, as well as light-catching grasses including Sesleria ‘Greenlee’ and Stipa gigantea.
Above: A guesthouse on an old estate in the north of Ibiza is entirely enclosed in terraced gardens with stone terraces matching the house and gravel walkways, and neat Mediterranean plantings of prostrate rosemary, ballota, achillea, Helichrysum orientale and Santolina chamaecyparissus.
Above: James Basson’s work in the south of France, where his landscape business is based, is well-known for its often trail-blazing response to climate change and reassessment of what garden design can be. His drought-tolerant plantings are more in keeping with the wild landscapes of the region. In this early project there are olive and cypress trees, clipped shrubs including rosemary, bupleurum and teucrium along with the intense blue flowers of pervoskia.
Above: The terraced gardens of The Rooster in Antiparos, Greece, meld into the landscape with native planting, fig and olive trees, along with Juniperus oxycedrus, Bougainvillea spectabilis as well as Sarcopoterium spinosum, a native species reintroduced by local nurseries.
Above: A series of roof gardens designed by Piet Oudolf in collaboration with Tom de Witte, surround a private house south of Amsterdam. Plants including Allium tanguticum ‘Summer Beauty’, Amsonia hubrichtii, Calamintha nepeta, Eryngium bourgatii, Limonium platyphyllum, lavandula, Salvia yangii (syn. Perovskia atriplicifolia), Sesleria autumnalis, sporobolus, echinacea, Teucrium x lucidrys, agastache, Origanum laevigatum, Salvia sclarea, Sedum matrona, Stipa tirsa, Stachys byzantina and Festuca mairei are planted into six inches of free-draining substrate.
Above: Swedish nurseryman and landscape designer Peter Korn is known as “the sand man” for his pioneering work using sand as a growing medium. Here, in the Klinta Garden, created with his partner Julia Andersson, the naturally sandy soil was amended with additional sand and planted with colorful and sun-loving herbaceous plants and grasses including Dianthus carthusianorum, Stipa pulcherrima, baptisia, salvia, ballota and echinops.
Above: The only African garden in Visionary, Azaren consists of a contemporary house designed by architect Imaad Rhamouni and a surrounding landscape by Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières, whose designs in France, Spain, Morocco and beyond are known for their striking environmentally sensitive approach in arid locations. Set in the Ourika River Valley in Morocco’s High Atlas, a 20-acre orchard is planted with olives, pomegranates and fig trees. The garden surrounding the ochre building features agave, cacti and ornamental grasses.
Above: In her book, Takacs showcases public projects alongside private gardens. Here in the 250-scre Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, several hundred mangrove trees within the Dragonfly Lakes and Kingfisher Wetlands function as a carbon sink by removing greenhouse gases from the environment. In Singapore the move to greening the city began in the 1960s, long before it became a trend. Lately the Garden City has evolved further with a Green Plan 2030, which focuses on the development of a climate-resilient and biodiverse city with an epic tree planting program and an additional 2,500 green spaces.
Visionary is in stores now.
Above: Visionary is in stores now.

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