The New Traditional Garden: A Practical Guide to Creating and Restoring Authentic American Gardens for Homes of All Ages

Michael Weishan, Author, Seth Godin Productions, Author Ballantine Books $35 (352p) ISBN 978-0-345-42041-1
Weishan, horticulturist and publisher of Traditional Gardening magazine, presents a compendium that will appeal to a range of gardening passions. In the first chapter, he explains the 300-year history of American gardening, from its utilitarian colonial beginnings to the elaborate gardens created during the booming economy at the end of the 19th century. And it is this historical background that can inform readers faced with restoring old properties to historical correctness. Chapters are arranged by principle: Order and Balance; Cohesion; Details; Practicality; Beauty; Productivity; and Stewardship. Very little escapes Weishan's scope: suburban plot plans, visits to several historic gardens, how-tos, topiary, the delights of rhubarb or of a flowering mead, make-overs of driveway entries, lists of vines that twist or hold, a clear dissection of the rose family, unabashed commentary on the mania of ""unblemished lawns"" and the curse of overgrown foundation plants. Whether impatiently scolding (""You simply can't buy that luscious patina of age""), encouraging concern for the shared landscape, or lamenting the postwar decline of aesthetics and the reduction of gardening to ""lawn and mulch,"" Weishan's historic lens will sharpen the vision of any gardener. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999
Release date: 09/01/1999
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