We all have an immediate image of the formal garden as a triumph of man's architectural designs over unruly Nature, but this is not as precise a distinction as one would think. The restored formal garden reflects original planning of the past and modifications resulting from later interpretations. Drawing upon a wide array of archival material, horticultural historian Laird explores gardens both as they were and as they are. The wide diversity of formal gardens, from country to country and era to era, becomes immediately apparent in the excellent illustrations and descriptions; the interplay of nature and art, of freedom and formality, echo the role that gardens play in society. This book is a fine example of scholarly research that is both a source for further study and an inspiration to gardeners. Recommended for large libraries or for those serving a gardening community.-- Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York
Laird tours prominent gardens of Europe and the U.S. in a stunning documentary detailing the evolution of formal aspects of garden design over a 500-year time span. Commentary explains the iconography of garden features and offers an analysis of original garden plans compared with changes occurring up to the present day. No doubt, aficionados will savor the color photographs of splendid Renaissance architectural features (fountains, terracing, and sculptures), decorative baroque parterres and grottoes, and picturesque elements of irregular landscape motifs. The spectacular examples capture the garden as art form through an examination of the formal and informal, geometric and organic elements. A gazetteer of 100 formal gardens is included. An enlightening addition for collections.