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Gardener of Versailles: My Life in the World's Grandest Garden Hardcover – February 11, 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 47 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Charming…Mr. Baraton is delightful when describing his daily routines—he talks to his trees and has pet names for many of them—and as a writer he is a master of what might be termed the inarguable Gallic utterance…but for a hands-on perspective and sheer fun, Mr. Baraton can't be beat.” -Wall Street Journal

"What an eccentric and charming memoir… Baraton has been gardening at Versailles for nearly 40 years. He knows every vista, every bosquet, every fountain on its 2,100 acres. Baraton’s book is sweet and breezy." -New York Times

“…a delightful memoir of more than 40 years of living and working there…Baraton’s book is the best kind of travel experience: a chat with a local.” –Chicago Tribune

"
Baraton shares the memories of more than 40 years of living and working in the gardens. He is an engaging raconteur who tells his story with humility and a delightful sense of humor. He chooses his words to convey his passion and his personality. To read them is to have him in the room, where he entertains you without your having to reciprocate. In this case, though, that’s cause for regret. I think he would be the sort of house guest one hates to see depart...Whether you enjoy reading of history or gardening or simply take pleasure in the memoir of someone who is passionate about his craft and finds gratification therein, I strongly recommend The Gardener of Versailles: My Life in the World’s Grandest Garden. There is an undeniable sweetness to be found in being in sync with nature and in dancing to the rhythm of the seasons. Baraton tells us that, distilled to its essence, what makes a good gardener is joy. I have a feeling he is a very good gardener. He ranks high on a list of people I’d like to meet – ideally, on his turf." -Paris Arts Travel

An exquisite storyteller who works in and lives among the gardens, Baraton immediately engages readers…Baraton has filled his book not only with interesting historical details and human stories of the royals who walked the grounds but with insightful, contemporary tales of wise coworkers and eccentric visitors. Whether he’s discussing romantic tourists or marveling at bygone gardening techniques, Baraton’s eloquence and intelligence shine in this English translation by Murray. Practically required reading for garden travelers, gardeners, history fans, and even memoir buffs. Readers will wish more of his books were available in translation. Delightful.” ~Library Journal, Starred Review
 
“[A] fascinating memoir…an intimate and visceral look into his complicated relationship with one of Europe’s most astonishing public gardens…It is a telling glimpse of the challenge, consolation, and occasional horror of overseeing a place of magic.” ~Publishers Weekly

"He is an engaging story-teller who has written many books on Versailles, but this is the only one available in English. Baraton also hosts gardening programs on French radio and television. If you have visited Versailles, this book will remind you of that gorgeous setting. If you have not, it will inspire you to do so with the help of Baraton's suggestions for a perfect tour." -Chicago Botanic Garden
 
“Versailles head gardener and TV host Baraton reflects on his three decades tending some of the most beautiful gardens in the world: Simply but thoroughly, the author narrates the history of Versailles, from the days of Henry IV sneaking off to these woods to hunt to the days of the revolution. The author philosophizes about the ability of gardens to provide space for deep reflection, and he writes poetically about the beautiful power of the grounds he tends. He also provides some practical advice-e.g., the best places for a lovers' tryst. In addition to paying tribute to the work of these innovators, Baraton also looks at the various films that have been filmed on the grounds, storms that have battered them, and the effects of each season on the flora and fauna. The descriptions of the various sites on the grounds could only come from a man fortunate enough to have lived on and loved the site for almost 40 years." ~Kirkus Reviews

“In his capacious, generous memoir, Baraton beautifully renders the intersection of personal memories with French history and botanical splendors…The gardens of Versailles, however, are not entirely romanticized by Baraton. Darker moments, from the aftermath of a storm to suicides, balance the portrait of a place marked as much by seasonal change as by an irresistible mythology…This engaging account of decades spent cultivating pathways speaks volumes on public and private uses for gardens and of nature’s enduring witness.” -Foreword Magazine

"A bestseller in France, this charming memoir offers an intimate account of life at one of the world’s grandest gardens. Baraton came to Versailles in 1976 and has reigned over its grounds as jardinière en chef since 1982; he willingly confesses his personal relationship with the trees there. A treat for horticulture buffs, this appealingly self-deprecating account weaves together Baraton’s own story with that of the historic parterres and groves he so lovingly tends." -France Magazine

"Whether you enjoy reading of history or gardening or simply take pleasure in the memoir of someone who is passionate about his craft and finds gratification therein, I strongly recommend The Gardener of Versailles...." -BonJour Paris

"...a unique treasure....the real experiences and thoughts of someone who has worked (and lived!) on the grounds of Versailles add a personal touch that can't be achieved in a simple photobook or even general history of the palace and gardens. Baraton's passion for the gardens..clearly shines as the heart of this personal..garden memoir that is a must for anyone with an interest at a more personal look at Versailles." -Vive la Queen

About the Author

Alain Baraton is the best-selling author of many books on gardening and the host of weekly gardening programs on French radio and television.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.13 pounds
  • Hardcover : 296 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0847842681
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0847842681
  • Publisher : Rizzoli Ex Libris (February 11, 2014)
  • Product Dimensions : 5.83 x 1.09 x 8.55 inches
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.1 out of 5 stars 47 ratings

Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5
47 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on January 27, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on December 11, 2014
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Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2014
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Reviewed in the United States on May 17, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on April 29, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on June 3, 2014
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Top reviews from other countries

Chris Templer
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and basically dull !
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 25, 2014
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4 people found this helpful
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Mary Wolf
5.0 out of 5 stars Sehr gutes Buch für diejenige, die sich für Gartenkultur in Versailles interessieren
Reviewed in Germany on February 23, 2020
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helene letnick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in Canada on February 3, 2016
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DAC
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic insights into the mind of a brilliant gardener
Reviewed in Canada on November 29, 2014
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Gail Laing
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet and lovely. Very well done translation.
Reviewed in Canada on August 22, 2014
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