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Great Gardens of America

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    tour of handsome gardens in text and photographs

    There is no characteristic style of great gardens of America; as there is for great gardens of England or Italy for example. The wide geographical and climatic range of the United States and Canada and the diversity of influences on the cultures are reflected in the gardens giving them a greater diversity than any other country. The diverse cultural and aesthetic backgrounds of the landscape designers accounts for this too.

    More so than other countries, the great gardens of America incorporate and sometimes represent the vegetation and atmosphere of their locations (rather than aim to create sanctuaries distinct from their surroundings). In most cases, the location is the source for the idea or inspiration of the garden.
    A location on Long Island for instance lent itself to a house overlooking a pond resembling the famous Shinto shrine at Ise in Japan. The gardens around this house expand on the Japanese reference with their ponds, antiquities, and sculpture seen in Japanese gardens.

    This attunement with specifics and moods of the natural world notable in Japanese landscape and garden design is seen too in most of the other gardens. Lurie Park in the city of Chicago carries this approach to an exceptionally imaginative point. This park crisscrossed by walkways is like a patch of original prairie with its wildflowers, grasses, and other vegetation.

    Quebec to the American Southwest, the American Northwest to Miami is the territorial range of the gardens. Within this range come gardens in California, New York, Midwestern states, and others. Each of the 25 gardens is viewed in an individual section with an engaging and informative play of words and photographs. The text of the writer Richardson rests of his background as a garden historian and landscape architecture critic. The text brings out the general and particular features of each garden by relating the origins of the design, historical points, and biographical and stylistic matters about the property owner and the landscape designer.

    Jones' 300 color photographs of varying sizes and perspectives (wide-scale to close-up) work in coordination with the text. Jones is the 2008 Royal Horticulture Society/Garden Media Guild's Photographer of the Year.

    While visually appealing and informative, the book goes beyond the typical style and intent of an art/coffee-table book. It's obvious that more editorial and design thought went into it. For text and photographs working together openly and implicitly are like a memorable guided walking tour through each of the gardens.

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