If you often see odd materials at hardware stores, rummage sales, and friends’ garages and have flashes of insight that they could be repurposed for a totally new use, then you are going to love The Revolutionary Yardscape. It’s subtitled: Ideas for repurposing local materials to create containers, pathways, lighting, and more, and it’s all about how exactly you might reimagine differing shapes and materials to use within your garden as fences, trellises, lights, pathways, etc.
Levesque has an amazing eye for the type of warm industrial design that is so popular right now. His landscapes rely on foliage colors, spiky forms, and stylish reuse of metal, glass, easily-available stone, wood – even styrofoam! Yes, there’s a stucco-covered styrofoam structure in the book, that looks pleasingly futuristic against a water feature.
With each project, he walks us through the materials that originally provided inspiration, the needs of the site, and how he exactly he brought the two together. He doesn’t dumb down the construction how-to, but his instructions have a simplicity to them which makes me feel like I could tackle any project in the book if I had sufficient desire.
That’s not to imply that you’re limited by the projects he suggests. Indeed, the whole point of the book is that you’re not going to know what your own projects will be like until you find your own interesting materials to repurpose. Given that, Levesque works hard to share the concepts behind his designs and his construction techniques so that you will be able to create projects that are truly your own.
While his style is distinct, there are so many interesting materials and projects shown that even if you don’t connect with his use of color or materials, it would be easy after reading to come up with your own unique ways of styling your materials. This book is like a set of training wheels for those (like me!) who long to build our own garden structures, but aren’t sure where to start.
This quote from the end of the book seems to sum up his design philosophy:
I am right there with the neighborhood children in many ways. But it is my own “don’t touch” warning that I must avoid. It is my own “you cannot do that” voice which I must openly ignore and blithely brush past as I go about the business of reimagining what a garden can be. In order to truly rethink the garden, I have to get on with rethinking all the boundaries I set for myself – or worse yet, the ones I let be set for me. Boundaries imagined or imposed keep us from improvising. They keep us from slipping past the known into the knowable.
We need a few less boundaries in the garden. We need more play, more dead serious play. We need to play with stuff and play really hard. We need to hunt down what is local, used, and readily available, and we need to drag it home and get busy playing with it. There are no lines we must play inside or outside of. In the end, in order to rethink the garden we must rethink the gardener.