Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bunny Williams: Gorgeous new release of On Garden Style

"Shiny white lacquer chairs, along with terracotta pots of agapanthus and clipped box balls, brighten this shady terrace at the home of Oscar de la Renta in Connecticut."

"As far back as my memory takes me, I have been smitten by gardens.  I grew up in the rolling countryside of Virginia, where I spent my summers tagging after my mother through beds of flowers and endless rows of tomatoes and cabbages.  Often it was my job to pick whatever was ripe, and that is the memory that stays with me now.  It's a warm summer afternoon, the light is golden, the birds are chirping, and I'm out there happily picking peas for dinner."

-Bunny Williams, On Garden Style

For Manhattan-based designer Bunny Williams, her love affair with the light, the structure, and the view of the garden and their "rooms", is given careful consideration as when she designs interior spaces.  She always keeps in mind that the scale and mass of the plantings are determined by the size of the house and garden, as gardens are the extension of the style of your home ... connecting House to Garden, and Architecture to Nature.  The results are a stylish kitchen garden... a fireside garden... a walled garden... a container garden...

First published in 1998, On Garden Style established Bunny Williams as an expert on gardens and gardening.  I carried her original book around our flat dirt-filled backyard in our (then) new home explaining to my husband the ideas of: garden "rooms", the importance of hardscape, view, and paths leading to a focal point.  It was a lovely book that was both practical and inspiring; it finally just fell apart at the seams.  This new edition, the latest volume of On Garden Style is lavish and informative, the pictures are generous and gorgeous, and her voice is as if you leaned over your neighbor's fence and was handed a cup of tea as she shared all her garden secrets to you in detail.

For me, Bunny Williams epitomizes the idea of "lifestyle" designer, who showcases how to live beautifully.  I have loved all her books:  An Affair with a House, Bunny Williams' Point of View, Bunny Williams' Scrapbook for Living, and the re-issue of On Garden Style, which really is a new book; I promise you will find yourself reading and re-reading until yours falls apart at the seams.


"A garden should make you feel you've entered a privileged space ... a place not just set apart but reverberant ... and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the garden must put some kind of a twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer to poetry."

-from Second Nature: A Gardener's Education by Michael Pollan

"A graphic checkerboard terrace made with squares of grass and cast cement pavers.  This simple design can complement almost any style of house."

"I remember a wide, low arbor ... Underfoot was a brick path edged with violets, overhead were grape-vines, and on each side, half under arbor and half outside, were peonies and irises.  No one thought of calling it a pergola.  It was merely the way to the kitchen garden."

-Frances Duncan, The Joyous Art of Gardening, 1917

"The picket fence and wood arbor form a lovely entrance for this garden."

So much depends
a red wheel 
glazed with rain
beside the white chickens

-William Carlos Williams
"Spring and All"

My sincere thanks to Jill Cohen Associates - Where Beautiful Books Begin, for sponsoring this book review.  It has truly been a privilege.

Photos: "Reproduced from Bunny Williams On Garden Style; Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2015"


  1. This post is visually stunning! I have followed your blog for months, and when I asked myself which post I liked best, I always choose the latest one. Each one seemed to be outdone by the next. Well, this one is no exception, it is my favorite post so far that I have seen on this, or for that matter, any other blog!

    1. How kind, thank you for the thoughtful comments! I am so glad you came by! All the best to you and yours, Rié

  2. I recently saw a sign that said, "It all began in a garden." After looking at your post, is it any wonder why? What a beautiful and inspiring book, truly a must have for my library. Thank you for another wonderful post!

    1. Love it! It really is worth the purchase, you will not be sorry! Thank you for the kind words, Rié

  3. Rie it is the perfect time of year to remind us of gardens and especially of Bunny Williams style and panache with all things outdoors as well as indoors!! Have a wondrous weekend!

    The Arts by Karena

    1. I know I love Bunny Williams style and as you say her panache! Thank yo for coming by Karena! Rié

  4. This truly looks like a must-have book! Your lovely post makes me want to run out and buy a copy right now. So inspiring!!
    Mary Alice

    1. Mary Alice, I think you would love it... she showcases different gardens and styles and answers so many of the garden questions, I think it would be an asset to any gardener. Have a lovely day! Rié


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