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In Search of Paradise: Great Gardens of the World

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2008

    Around the world in 240 pages!

    Gardens are meant to be paradise on earth. The idea of paradise as a garden has a long history, even before the Garden of Eden was presented in the Bible. What the paradise looks like, there is hardly specific description. The description of the Garden of Eden was not very specific either, yet it gave the garden designer some ideas. In every culture, garden designers seek paradise through their own creative ways. Penelope Hobhouse, one of the most talented garden writers of our time, started her tour of paradise on earth in Asia: the serene naturalistic gardens and symbolism in China, and the Zen gardens and tea gardens in Japan. She then took us to continental Europe: the hilly regions of Italy where lavish gardens are balanced with the use of axes and symmetry, and gardens in Germany, Netherlands and Russia, as well as the climax of formal gardens, the French gardens. Penelope Hobhouse's next stop is England. She discussed in detail the naturalistic Landscape Gardens, the Cottage-style Gardens, and the Eclectic Gardens. She also explored Mediterranean gardens and gardens in America: European influences and naturalistic gardens. Last but not least, Penelope Hobhouse discuss today's gardens: water in gardens, gardens and nature, selecting right plants for right sites, reclaiming and revitalizing, and roof gardens, etc. To Penelope, an ideal garden is 'at the balance point between human control and untamed nature.' 'Great Gardens of the World: In Search of Paradise' has 240 pages and many beautiful interior color photos. It is a fine garden book that every garden lovers should have.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    a volume to be savored and returned to again and again

    The ideal garden we are given to understand is a paradise - 'a haven of comfort, abundance, and beauty.' Many of us try to achieve that paradigm in our own way, as have countless others before us. Now gathered in one gorgeous volume are the results of those endeavors gleaned from diverse cultures and climes. We begin our armchair tour with 'Gardens Through the Centuries,' a journey covering four thousand years beginning with the earliest gardens alive in the deserts of the Middle East. The first Mughal Emperor Babur (1483 - 1530) had a number of gardens including the Garden of Fidelity which was divided into four parts with a central pool. Of course, the gardens designed in China and Japan expressed a respect for nature, evidenced in vast areas where the placement of each stone had meaning. Places for contemplation, stroll and moss gardens were found in Japan. For this reader what can compare with the gardens of Italy? Hadrian's Villa near Tivoli boasts open porticoes, enclosed atriums, fountains, basins, statuary. It is a wonder. La Mortola on the Italian Riviera is a place for dreaming with a steep slope to the sea rich in agaves, aloes, white roses, salvias and citrus trees. A virtual Eden on earth. Ms. Hobhouse continues our tour with a look at modern garden design as represented by such designers as Roberto Burle Marx, Fernando Caruncho, and Beth Chatto. 'In Search of Paradise' holds 240 pages and 200 illustrations all in glorious color contributed by the world's foremost garden photographers. The is a volume to be savored and returned to again and again. - Gail Cooke

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