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Gardens of Persia Hardcover – February 17, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

The word "paradise" comes from the ancient Persian word for an enclosed garden, and the art of landscaping is arguably Iran's great cultural legacy; qanats, underground ducts bringing melted snow from the mountains, have artificially irrigated the arid plateau of Iran for the past two and a half millennia. Hobhouse, a veteran garden historian and designer, elegantly explains the continuity of the aesthetic ideas that govern Persian gardens, with their rills of water and tree-lined alleys underplanted with roses and violets. Her account, accompanied by Jerry Harpur's spectacular photography, spans more than two thousand years of design, leading us from the remnants of Cyrus the Great's capital, Pasargadae, to Persian-influenced gardens as far afield as Quebec.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Kales Press (February 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967007666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967007663
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 1 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Sugawich on June 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Once again Penelope Hobhouse combines her peerless practical knowledge of plants with a passion for research and a love of garden history. In Gardens of Persia, she follows their evolution, from attempts to embody a vision of paradise to contemporary expressions of wealth and power. In all these spaces, with their distinctive template combining subtropical plants, buildings, and water, she finds that initial and powerful spiritual impulse always present, even where the imperatives of the world seem, on the surface, to be the motivation. The book is a beautiful production, with 150 specially commissioned photographs by Jerry Harpur, and a wealth of archival images and plans.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jane Ram on June 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book comes close to being all things to all readers. And if you don't feel like reading, you can simply enjoy the generous spread of illustrations -- maps, drawings and diagrams, beautifully reproduced Persian miniatures and above all the superb photographs by Jerry Harpur, a longtime specialist in capturing gardens and plants all over the world on film.

This is much more than a picture book: the name guarantees a literate and enlightening read. This book is not about gardening in the usual sense of how to grow certain plants in particular places at specific seasons: it covers the role of gardens in the social history of thousands of years of culture. But if you have a bare terrace or balcony, you will still find more than a little incidental inspiration in these pages. This book is a vast work of research, but it remains on a human level.

Armchair travelers will enjoy the rare opportunity to learn more about what is perhaps one of today's least known cultural regions. Even philosophers will find food for thought in some of the quotations from Persian and Western writers: "The real gardens and flowers are within, they are in man's heart, not outside." (Rumi The Masnavi Book IV)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kkbs on April 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As I am certainly not a gardening enthusiast, I was positively surprised by this amazing book. It is setting its topic into the (long Persian) historical background, draws interesting conclusion between Persian and Western gardens, and is simply a good read.
A special mention should be given to the nice photos and, in particular, the engravings, which give an impression of how the sites developped in the last centuries.
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