Gardens Through History: Nature Perfected

William Howard Adams, Author Abbeville Press $75 (356p) ISBN 978-0-89659-919-2
This paean to gardens, saturated with details pictorial, botanical and historical, is a must for anyone fascinated by the human impulses that led to green creations. Adams ( Jefferson's Monticello ) takes the reader from ancient times up until the present, charting the evolution of gardens in Europe, China, Japan and Latin America. He shows how garden design, in much the same way as seeds, has traveled from place to place--adopting some cultural characteristics and abandoning others along the way. The best gardens, the author asserts, become art when they ``rise above honest craft.'' In stunning examples, he documents how that process happens, tracing a garden's source of inspiration, evolution, cultural context and current form. This generally generous reverie, however, is not without polemic, as when Adams laments the ``wholesale'' destruction of the formal English Renaissance garden by Capability Brown and his followers, who sought to create the seemingly ``natural,'' unfettered Romanticok/eed garden. Such strong opinions reveal Adams's ardor for his subject and serve to enliven the richly detailed text. Captivating in its beauty, compelling in its lore, this work should become a staple on the shelf. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 356 pages - 978-0-7892-0458-5
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