This was the most interesting, enjoyable and informative book I’ve read in ages!
At its very simplest, this book acts as a guide to 100 of the most significant gardens of the world with insights into their backgrounds, their cultural influences and place within the history of landscape design. However, the selection is arranged in an historic sequence so that the gardens illustrate how the prevailing culture of the day influenced their designs so that the reader is given an overview of the development of garden/landscape design over the centuries.
The one hundred gardens were selected by the author, Linda A. Chisholm, who teaches at the New York Botanical Garden, to illustrate how landscape design over the centuries has reflected the culture of the time and how, by studying examples of landscape design, we can learn what a culture thought and valued and how people in a particular place and time experienced and understood nature. She explains why a particular style became dominant at a specific time and place in history and the various messages these designs were meant to convey and what we may infer from them nowadays.
Today’s designers – and anybody interested in gardens – will be better informed and knowledgeable of the past after reading this book. Modern design often borrows from the past, replicating and adapting it to new purposes. Understanding the past is essential to understanding the present and to shaping the future.
I recommend this book most enthusiastically – an essential read for any enthusiastic gardener. It is a large book with a style of writing so engaging and the material presented so interesting that it holds one’s interest throughout. Michael D. Garber’s photography is excellent and the gardens are well illustrated, a perfect combination of text and image.
I will add a quotation from the famous Brazilian designer, Roberto Burle Marx: “A garden is the result of an arrangement of natural materials according to aesthetic laws. Interwoven throughout are the artist’s outlook on life, his past experiences, his affections, his attempts, his failures and his mistakes.”
[The History of Landscape Design in 100 Gardens, Linda A. Chisholm, Photography by Michael D. Garber, Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, 2018, Hardback, 535 pages, $50, ISBN: 9781604698671