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Books

Design in the Little Garden

Fletcher Steele
Reprint of the 1924 edition, with a new introduction by Robin Karson, Hon. ASLA

Design in the Little Garden  Cover Image

About the Authors


Fletcher Steele

One of the foremost landscape designers of the early twentieth century, Fletcher Steele (1885–1971), created more than seven hundred landscapes, most of them private gardens, over the course of his long career. Steele published frequently in both popular and professional magazines, on topics that ranged from horticulture to conservation, civic improvement, modernism, and space composition. In his built works he deployed his training in classical landscape architecture as a foundation for experimenting with modernist spatial constructs. Shortly after visiting the 1925 Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris, Steele began working on one of his longest-lasting commissions, Naumkeag, Mabel Choate’s estate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. His work there and at the Camden (Maine) Public Library inspired several members of the next generation of modernist landscape architects, including Dan Kiley.

Robin Karson, Hon. ASLA

Robin Karson, Hon. ASLA, is the founder and executive director of LALH and the author of more than one hundred articles and several books on American landscape history, including (as coeditor) Warren H. Manning, Landscape Architect and Environmental Planner;  A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place EraFletcher Steele, Landscape ArchitectThe Muses of Gwinn, and the new introduction to the LALH revised edition of Fletcher Steele’s Design in the Little Garden. Her work has been recognized with awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Foundation for Landscape Studies, the American Horticultural Society, and the Institute for Classical Architecture and Art. In addition, she has organized several touring exhibitions for LALH on topics relating to American landscape history. In 2004, Karson was named a distinguished member of the Honor Society of Sigma Lambda Alpha for her “continued high-quality contribution to the scholarship of landscape architecture and the literature of landscape architecture history.” In 2017, she was made an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Film

Fletcher Steele & Naumkeag

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Design in the Little Garden

Fletcher Steele
Reprint of the 1924 edition, with a new introduction by Robin Karson, Hon. ASLA

Library of American Landscape History

ISBN: 978-1-952620-19-5 Page Count: 180
Price: $20.00 | Cloth Published: 01/01/2011
Order Online

Among the many books published about garden design, few manage to get at so many vital aspects of the topic so pungently as Fletcher Steele’s Design in the Little Garden. First published in 1924, and reissued here with a new introduction by Robin Karson, the book captures the sense of possibility that Steele and his landscape architectural colleagues felt as the nation’s population swelled and the middle class spilled out of the cities into new suburbs.

In this slim volume, he tackles the challenges of designing the residential landscape, while also addressing architectural and planning issues and recommending several innovative strategies for suburban house design. Steele organized his book for clarity and ease of use. Brief chapters focus on both process (“Buying Land”) and features (“The Flower Garden,” “Rock, Wild, and Wall Gardens,” “Grading, Steps, Walks,” “Toolhouse, Cold Frames,” etc.). In the course of guiding an imaginary couple through the exercise of buying a new home and designing, planting, and maintaining the surrounding yard, he gives life to the guiding principles of cohesion and utility.

Written in an engaging voice, with a sharp wit sometimes tempered by affectionate exasperation, Design in the Little Garden provides a concise summary of Steele’s design principles and a delightful read for anyone interested in garden design at any scale.

About the Authors


Fletcher Steele

One of the foremost landscape designers of the early twentieth century, Fletcher Steele (1885–1971), created more than seven hundred landscapes, most of them private gardens, over the course of his long career. Steele published frequently in both popular and professional magazines, on topics that ranged from horticulture to conservation, civic improvement, modernism, and space composition. In his built works he deployed his training in classical landscape architecture as a foundation for experimenting with modernist spatial constructs. Shortly after visiting the 1925 Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris, Steele began working on one of his longest-lasting commissions, Naumkeag, Mabel Choate’s estate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. His work there and at the Camden (Maine) Public Library inspired several members of the next generation of modernist landscape architects, including Dan Kiley.

Robin Karson, Hon. ASLA

Robin Karson, Hon. ASLA, is the founder and executive director of LALH and the author of more than one hundred articles and several books on American landscape history, including (as coeditor) Warren H. Manning, Landscape Architect and Environmental Planner;  A Genius for Place: American Landscapes of the Country Place EraFletcher Steele, Landscape ArchitectThe Muses of Gwinn, and the new introduction to the LALH revised edition of Fletcher Steele’s Design in the Little Garden. Her work has been recognized with awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Foundation for Landscape Studies, the American Horticultural Society, and the Institute for Classical Architecture and Art. In addition, she has organized several touring exhibitions for LALH on topics relating to American landscape history. In 2004, Karson was named a distinguished member of the Honor Society of Sigma Lambda Alpha for her “continued high-quality contribution to the scholarship of landscape architecture and the literature of landscape architecture history.” In 2017, she was made an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Film

Fletcher Steele & Naumkeag

Watch Film