A poet and philosopher who was "both famous and obscure" during his lifetime (1877-1945), Borchardt was also a gardening enthusiast. He was intimately involved with the contemporary German literary scene, but 19th-century ideas and ideals continued to dominate his outlook when he wrote this series of essays from self-imposed exile in Italy in 1938. In it, he explores the meaning of gardens and gardening by tracing their historical evolution from the most ancient notions of the garden as simply "a space that was marked off and protected" and "still had nothing to do with flowers" to "a symbol charged with passion" that "fulfills the dreams of two great centuries on the ruins of a third, as a legacy for a fourth, which is still unborn." Borchardt begins with a discourse on "The Flower and the Human Being," exploring the ancient origins of that relationship through mythology, legend and language. He goes on to philosophize about the different natures of wild and cultivated plants and about the relationship between plants and their native landscapes. Martin's translation captures the Germanic density and impassioned, freewheeling inquiry behind this difficult but rewarding addition to the garden reader's bookshelf. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.