GARDENS OF PERSIA
The basic design of the Persian garden can be traced back to the sixth century B.C. and was seminal to the development of Islamic, Indian and Western European styles. Noted garden writer, designer, historian and lecturer Hobhouse traces the evolution of the Persian garden and its impact, combining impressive scholarship with a gardener's practical insights. Her portrait of life in and around what is now Iran viewed through the prism of its gardens spans two and a half millennia and touches on virtually every major civilization. In this mostly arid region, gardening was synonymous with water. It was so important that Cyrus the Younger ranked the management of that resource one of "the noblest and most necessary pursuits." Hobhouse explores the interplay among architecture, trade, religion, warfare, government and horticulture with text that is meticulously researched but comfortably conversational. Numerous photographs, diagrams and reproductions illuminate her descriptions, and the time line of the Royal Houses of Persia, glossary of Persian terms, listing of Persian plants and exhaustive bibliography will be helpful for casual readers, garden designers and scholars alike. Curiously, despite Hobhouse's acute sense of the region's geography, the only two maps included are inadequate; a detailed topographic view of the area would have been welcome. Still, this is a dazzling look at the evolution of a beautiful and peaceful tradition. (Feb.)
Forecast: An eight-city author tour (tied in with Hobhouse's keynote speeches at symposiums sponsored by Horticulture magazine) and an NPR segment on the book will energize sales. It should be a hit not only with gardeners but also with the Mideast-American community.