cover image European Gardens

European Gardens

Virgilio Vercelloni, Vercelloni. Rizzoli International Publications, $65 (207pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1294-3

Entertainingly idiosyncratic in its selection of material, this historical compendium of facts and fascinating lore takes off on a visual romp through the history of gardens. Rather than adhere to a conventional narrative format, Vercelloni--an Italian architect, city planner and landscape gardener--arranges his material as though it were a slide show, devoting each page to an image and accompanying text. Beginning with the ``landscape'' of the Ice Ages, forging ahead to the Renaissance and finally reaching contemporary times, the author presents a captivating grab-bag of information, covering such topics as the significance of flowers in Renaissance painting, the reasoning behind the 17th-century craze for tulips and the role of contemporary urban parks in society. With its strong visual orientation and pungent text, Vercelloni's ``historical atlas'' looks deftly and light-heartedly at humanity's ongoing love of gardens. (Jan.)