Inventing the Garden

Inventing the Garden

by Matteo Vercelloni, Virgilio Vercelloni, Paola Gallo
     
 

The authors trace the evolution of the Western garden from the first plots cultivated for pleasure in the Middle East to today’s diverse green spaces that challenge traditional ideas about what constitutes a garden. They examine the changing attitude toward nature—as something to be dominated or embraced, ordered or allowed to range freely, exploited or

Overview

The authors trace the evolution of the Western garden from the first plots cultivated for pleasure in the Middle East to today’s diverse green spaces that challenge traditional ideas about what constitutes a garden. They examine the changing attitude toward nature—as something to be dominated or embraced, ordered or allowed to range freely, exploited or conserved.

Examples of the highly prescribed hortus conclusus or enclosed spaces of the Middle Ages are found in the Italian Renaissance gardens and the symmetries of Versailles and Les Tuileries. After the rise of Romanticism in the late eighteenth century, English gardeners such as William Kent and “Capability” Brown embraced the concept that nature should prevail over man’s manipulation of it and created gardens that broke through traditional enclosures. A century later, while the American West witnessed both the conquering spirit of the homesteaders and the first stirrings of the conservation movement, urban parks and gardens were created as oases to which all people had access.

The book concludes with a look at contemporary gardens, where efforts to reclaim landscapes and repurpose crumbling infrastructure are taking place within an atmosphere of ecological sensitivity—appreciating the idea that the whole planet is a garden and all who live in it are gardeners. 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A history of the garden is a history of civilization. With these Western gardens, architects Virgilio Vercelloni (1930–1995) and Matteo Vercelloni describe the development of the garden from ancient Persia to modern-day Manhattan. For the authors, gardens are never merely collections of plants. They are lenses through which we can perceive the aesthetics, intellectual fashions, and prevailing politics of the day. From ancient Persia to contemporary California, the authors tell the fascinating story of how gardens have been shaped by historic figures, architectural styles, scientific enthusiasms, and sociological and political movements. With its generous illustrations and large format (10-in.×12-in.), it strikes a nice balance between being a scholarly survey of the field and a lavishly illustrated introduction. 428 color and b&w illus. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

“A reader, running a finger along one of the winding garden paths in this volume, can get lost in reverie.”—The Wall Street Journal

“For the authors, gardens are never merely collections of plants. They are lenses through which we can perceive the aesthetics, intellectual fashions, and prevailing politics of the day.”—Publishers Weekly

“Highly recommended.”—Choice

“A lush history of the garden in Western culture. . . . An absorbing narrative and a rich treasure chest of images.”—Books & Culture

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781606060476
Publisher:
Getty Publications
Publication date:
03/08/2011
Edition description:
1
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 12.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Matteo Vercelloni has created designs for innovative land management and is the author of Il paradiso terrestre: Viaggio tra i manufatti del giardino dell’uomo (Jaca, 1986). Virgilio Vercelloni (1930-1995) was an architect and landscape gardener and the author of European Gardens (Rizzoli, 1990).

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