New Nordic Gardens, Scandinavian Landscape Design – Annika Zetterman
Gardens “should be designed with dignity, worked on with modesty and maintained with persistence. This is how we think, how we work and this is what we are.”
There is an ethos and a feeling in Scandinavian design which is perfectly distinctive and, though often copied elsewhere, is never matched for it is a design of its place and of its people. It embodies what it is to be Nordic, to be faithful to tradition, to be in touch with one’s environment to remain simple, honest and true.
Simplicity, modesty, and elegance are at the heart of all Scandinavian design and this is epitomised in garden design by the use of high-quality materials – generally raw and bare – selected for grace and sustainability and to compliment the garden environment. In recent years Nordic gardens have undergone major transformations but continue to look to the historic design heritage as a strength. They are influenced by the past but designers are developing new gardens which are innovative, push design boundaries and bring the appeal and beauty of a traditional approach aligned with a modern flair to today’s gardeners. The evolving design is less pale, less tame and less neutral and now more daring and resolute in its approach.
Annika Zetterman is at the forefront of this new surge in garden design. She is based in Stockholm, has designed gardens throughout Sweden, while her international success and reputation have brought her to projects further afield. One could not hope for an author more in tune with modern Nordic garden design and it is no wonder that her book is a thing of beauty with a simplicity of purpose and presentation, perfectly in keeping with the Scandinavian design ethos.
New Nordic Gardens is organised around a number of themes, each given a chapter of the book: the basic principles of Scandinavian design, responding to the light which is particularly special in Nordic countries along with guidance on plant selection, colour palettes and hard landscaping. Designs which show response to the seasons are featured along with examples of urban and environmentally friendly gardens and those which suit the present ever so popular movement to grow your own food. The Scandinavian countries have a strong sense of community spirit and community gardens, playgrounds and landscapes for socialisation are given particular attention.
These chapters are generously illustrated with photographs of, in the main, modern Scandinavian gardens showcasing contemporary design and they make a significant contribution to the overall impact and enjoyment of the book, an example of an excellent fit and balance of illustration and text.
Although it is Nordic gardens which are central to this book, it has relevance and significance for a wider audience and will be an enjoyable, informative and inspirational read. The book describes the fundamental notions of how to make a garden composition visually interesting with guidelines on organising space in a logical and practical way, making it useful and readily enjoyable, and these principles have universal application.
[New Nordic Gardens, Scandinavian Landscape Desigh, Annika Zetterman, Thames & Hudson, London, 2021, Softback, 288 pages, £25, ISBN: 978-0-500-29614-1]