The Intersection of Plants and People

A How-To That Organizes Freedom

A drawing from “The Peanut Butter & Jelly Garden” by Lisa Orgler. Illustration by Lisa Orgler.

In creating a garden, many of us may be tempted to purchase a little of this and a little of that, until the flower beds become an eclectic conglomerate of colors, shapes and textures. Others might tear out a home magazine page and reproduce a specific garden style so exactly that their own creativity is left out.

Such situations may yield success, but what if personal whim and faithful orderliness could be satisfied together in one yard? Lisa Orgler, a garden designer and lecturer at Iowa State University’s horticultural department, has written a delightful book that teaches readers how to do just that: capture their wildest creativity in a lovingly logical manner.

From Lisa Orgler's

Orgler gives examples of quirky garden themes in her landscape design guide. Text and Illustrations by Lisa Orgler.

“The Peanut Butter & Jelly Garden” is an engaging, clearly written, and wonderfully illustrated guide to making a theme garden. While it quickly reviews some of the more familiar types of outdoor retreats — such as those featuring herbs or those displaying the geometrical tidiness of old European estates — in Orgler’s book, the traditional ideas are mainly for reference. All preconceptions of what a garden is or ought to be, have been magnificently tossed out like scraps onto a compost heap. 

 “A theme can tell a story through a garden,” Orgler writes.  “This personalizes one’s landscape just as a scrapbook does with photos and memorabilia.”

Orgler walks the reader through her “Magical Five Steps” of landscape design, from brainstorming to final planning of a garden that can express subtly or outrageously, the unique viewpoint of its creator. Professing a love for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Orgler shows the reader how to take the seemingly mundane and odd garden theme of sliced bread and condiments and translate the idea into an exciting outdoor haven.

Another excerpt from the eBook.

Another excerpt from Orgler’s eBook, available on her blog.

With 67 pages packed with Orgler’s free-flowing drawings, the book makes for an inspiring, easy read. Though in PDF format, even bibliophiles will find scrolling this eBook a pleasurable experience, as Orgler’s layout is as easy as a stroll down a pretty path. Printing it out would be a wiser move: “The Peanut Butter & Jelly Garden” is a succinct gem of information, worthy of multiple viewings and the dog-eared markings of a favorite handbook.


“The Peanut Butter & Jelly Garden: And How to Create an Out-of-the-Ordinary Theme Garden” By Lisa Orgler

67 pp. The Polka Dot Hedge Experiment. Free download through Lisa Orgler’s blog on garden design: 

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This entry was posted on April 12, 2014 by in Feature, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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