Gale Nurseries

A Foreword

The Spirit of the Garden – by Chuck Gale

A number of years ago, a garden that my father and I had designed, and that was very dear to our hearts, was destroyed by a new owner. It was a terrible feeling, seeing our work treated with such disregard, and the worst thing was that we did not have decent photographs. Maybe it was professional hubris, but I had thought our work was for the ages, and at that point I knew we had to begin to get professional photographs taken of our gardens, in case this was to happen again.

After my father died in 1997, I began to think about what it meant to be in a family business, one that has been ongoing since my grandfather and uncle began it during the Depression. I had an idea to create a book documenting some of the best gardens that Gale Nurseries has created over the past 40 years or so, using the photographs we had begun to gather and new ones we would commission. I imagined that this project would serve both to honor the memory of my father and to preserve our work (at least in pictures and words) for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

This idea sat dormant until 2003, when I met Adam Levine, who interviewed me for his book on the Philadelphia Flower Show. Adam introduced me to Rob Cardillo, one of the country’s best garden photographers, who happens to live nearby, and to George Scott and Charles Nix, talented book producers from New York. These four became the nucleus of a team that, along with my associate John Shandra, has nurtured this book like a garden over the past four years, raising it up from a seed in my mind to the beautiful volume you now hold in your hands.

We are very fortunate to have clients who act as stewards of the gardens we have created for them. They realize that gardens, like all living things, grow and change. Large, beautiful trees fall and leave us, changing the climate and character of the garden. Floods and droughts wreak havoc and then Rob the Garden Photographer shows up early one morning when you are brushing your teeth or enjoying a cup of coffee in your favorite, secret garden spot. We thank you all for your patience and for allowing us to share your private spaces with the rest of the gardening world.

Our book is available for purchase online at