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Garden is a library for rendering CSS in Clojure and ClojureScript. Conceptually similar to Hiccup, it uses vectors to represent rules and maps to represent declarations. It is designed for stylesheet authors who are interested in what's possible when you trade a preprocessor for a programming language.

Table of Contents

Getting Started

Add the following dependency to your project.clj file:

Clojars Project

Garden 1.2.5 and below requires Clojure 1.6.0 and is known to work with ClojureScript 0.0-2342. However, starting with Garden 1.3.0 Garden requires Clojure 1.7 and ClojureScript 1.7.x to leverage a unified syntax with reader conditionals, and other major changes in the compiler and repl in Clojurescript.


Garden syntax is very similar to Hiccup. If you're familiar with Hiccup you should feel right at home. If not, don't sweat it! Garden's syntax is simple.

From your project's root directory start up a new REPL and try the following:

user=> (require '[garden.core :refer [css]])
user=> (css [:body {:font-size "16px"}])

First you'll notice the use of the css function. This function takes an optional map of compiler flags, any number of rules, and returns a string of compiled CSS.

Vectors represent rules in CSS. The first n non-collection elements of a vector depict the rule's selector where n > 0. When n = 0 the rule is not rendered. To produce a rule which selects the <h1> and <h2> HTML elements for example, we simply begin a vector with [:h1 :h2]:

user=> (css [:h1 :h2 {:font-weight "none"}])

To target child selectors nested vectors may be employed:

user=> (css [:h1 [:a {:text-decoration "none"}]])
"h1 a{text-decoration:none}"
user=> (css [:h1 :h2 [:a {:text-decoration "none"}]])
"h1 a, h2 a{text-decoration:none}"

As in Less/Sass, Garden also supports selectors prefixed with the & character allowing you to reference a parent selector:

user=> (css [:a
             {:font-weight 'normal
              :text-decoration 'none}
              {:font-weight 'bold
               :text-decoration 'underline}]])

A slightly more complex example demonstrating nested vectors with multiple selectors:

user=> (css [:h1 :h2 {:font-weight "normal"}
             [:strong :b {:font-weight "bold"}]])
"h1,h2{font-weight:normal}h1 strong,h1 b,h2 strong,h2 b{font-weight:bold}"

garden.selectors namespace defines a CSSSelector record. It doubles as both a function and a literal (when passed to the css-selector). When the function is called it will return a new instance that possesses the same properties. All arguments to the function must satisfy ICSSSelector.

garden.selectors namespace also defines these macros that create a selector record: defselector, defclass, defid, defpseudoclass and defpseudoelement.

garden.selectors namespace also defines many CSSSelector instances such as:

  • Type selectors a, abbr, address and more
  • Pseudo-classes active, checked, disabled and more
  • Language and negation pseudo-classes lang and not
  • Structural pseudo-classes nth-child, nth-last-child, nth-of-type and nth-last-of-type
  • Pseudo-elements after, before, first-letter and first-line
  • Attribute selectors attr=, attr-contains, attr-starts-with, attr-starts-with*, attr-ends-with and attr-matches
  • Combinators descendant, +, - and >
  • Special selector &

and allows to compose complex selectors such as this:

(defselector *)
(defpseudoclass host [x] x)
(defpseudoelement content)
(> (host (attr :flipped)) content (* last-child))
;; => :host([flipped]) > ::content > *:last-child

garden.selectors namespace also defines a CSS3 selectors's specificity function:

(specificity "#s12:not(FOO)")
;; => 101
(specificity (a hover))
;; => 10

Clojure maps represent CSS declarations where map keys and values represent CSS properties and values respectively. Garden's declaration syntax is a bit more involved than rules and understanding it is important to make the most of the library.

Declaration map keys should either be a string, keyword, or symbol:

user=> (css [:h1 {"font-weight" "normal"}])
user=> (css [:h1 {:font-weight "normal"}])
user=> (css [:h1 {'font-weight "normal"}])

Be aware, Garden makes no attempt to validate your declarations and will not raise an error if other key types are used.

user=> (css [:h1 {30000 "nom-nom"}])

We've already seen strings used as declaration map values, but Garden also supports keywords, symbols, numbers, maps, vectors, and lists in addition.

Strings, keywords, symbols, and numbers

Strings, keywords, symbols, and numbers are rendered as literal CSS values:

user=> (css [:body {:font "16px sans-serif"}])
"body{font:16px sans-serif}"

Be warned, you must escape literal string values yourself:

user=> (css [:pre {:font-family "\"Liberation Mono\", Consolas, monospace"}])
"pre{font-family:\"Liberation Mono\", Consolas, monospace}"


Leiningen commands

Building ClojureScript

lein build-cljs

Starting a Node REPL

lein node-repl

Run Clojure tests, along with a test runner

lein test-clj

Run ClojureScript tests (on Node)

lein test-cljs

Run both Clojure and ClojureScript tests

lein test-cljc

Further Reading & Wiki

Detailed documentation and a developer guide for Syntax, Rules, Declarations, and Plugins is under the community-contributed wiki.

Please contribute!


Listed by first commit:


This project is looking for team members who can help this project succeed! If you are interested in becoming a team member please open an issue.


Mailing List



Copyright © 2013-2016 Joel Holdbrooks.

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.