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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Showing 1-10 of 34 reviews(5 star). See all 36 reviews
on March 3, 2016
Pop the champagne or brew a pot of tea, then settle in. This book is one to be savored s-l-o-w-ly, because it's full of beautiful paintings that you'll want to look at closely, and interesting botanical and historical details, knit together with Vivian Swift's intelligent, witty, personal point of view. I wish I had a travel companion like her to visit these gardens around the world (Morocco, Scotland, Brazil, New Orleans!) but this book is almost as much fun. (I mean, how cool is it that the author not only wrote the text, hand lettered it, *and* painted each of the 100s of paintings?) It would be a wonderful gift for anyone who appreciates gardens, watercolors, or simply a well-designed book with great visual flow. It's a book you can pick up to read again and again.
12 people found this helpful
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on March 20, 2016
My personal gardening skills leave much to be desired and my painting skills are far from ready for prime time. So why would I leap into "Gardens of Awe and Folly" with difficult-to-contain enthusiasm? Simply because it is by the remarkable Vivian Swift, whose paintings and text (which is both fun and informative) highlight nine gardens from her own Long Island to such exotic or sophisticated locales as Rio, Marakkech, Paris and London, among others.

With delightful humor, a generous sprinkling of quotes, information about plants I never considered, an eye for architecture and enchanting paintings, the book is a journey into the worlds of poets, devoted amateur gardeners, gardening tips and the pecking order of the 17th century health care system! Added into the mix is a two page spread where the author demonstrates her painting technique for picture-perfect autumn leaves.

Five reasons to love this book? The paintings, the humor, the gardening tips, intriguing back stories and finally, beautiful production values and the sheer beauty of the finished product.

If I must find fault with Gardens of Awe and Folly it is quite simply because Vivian Swift stops at nine gardens, while I would have loved her to go on and on. Take this book, as I hope you would take the other two books by Vivian Swift ("When Wanderers Cease to Roam" and "Le Road Trip") and savor every second. Perhaps you'll be like me and start reading all over again -- after you order a copy or two for your favorite garden-loving friends!
8 people found this helpful
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on September 12, 2016
Visiting gardens wherever I travel is my greatest delight, yet friends ask, “Why? Don’t you see the same plants over and over?” Vivian Swift in her new book Gardens of Awe and Folly, has the best answer to this question. She writes, “If all you ask of a garden is What?, then all you’ll probably get in reply is a planting list. But ask instead, Why? How? When? and most of all, Who? and then you’re in for a nice, long conversation.”

Swift’s book is classified as Garden Essays, but it far exceeds this label. She describes her work as “an illustrated book for grownups,” with watercolor art, stories, thought provoking collages, and life lessons. Swift shares conversations she had with nine significant gardens. Not actual conversations with the gardeners but the stories found within and around the garden gate.

She is in awe of the complexity of the native plant societies and the powerful color of Majorelle Bleu. The spirit of gardeners is illustrated through Karen rebuilding her garden after hurricane Katrina. Karen purchased a French vintage garden gate, a “Katrinket, a ridiculously expensive, indulgent, and therapeutic thing” to help lift her out of misery. Swift appreciates the folly of gardeners taking on the burden of rearranging nature to create their vision of beauty and provides examples from garden history to make us all feel better.

After you have immersed yourself in this reading adventure, examining every little detail of this beautiful book, you will want to keep it close by. Then in an instant you can open it again to celebrate a sunset in Key West, have tea in Morocco, feel the chill of a winter rain in Scotland, walk in the light of brief autumn hours on Long Island, and sip champagne among a dozen roses in New Orleans. Thanks to Swift, you’ll be prepared for your own conversations with gardens no matter where you travel.
4 people found this helpful
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on March 21, 2016
OK, so I could just squeal and drool and go on and on about how much I love Vivian Swift's books, but I'll try to be specific. I can't decide what I like most about this book - the detailed watercolor illustrations, the writing, the hand-set type (swoon) - because I love it all. Her illustrations make the gardens come alive and the writing makes me want to see every garden in person. Perhaps the best is Ms Swift's attention to detail in every part of the book (and her others, too)- the precise watercolors, the clear, thoughtful, and funny prose, and the typography - no detail too small to be addressed with perfection.
This is a book to savor in bits, taking in all the art and descriptions while trying to make the book last as long as possible.
5 people found this helpful
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on March 2, 2016
What a joy for lovers of gardens and art and travel! Beautifully illustrated with Swift's lovely water colors - and featuring two of my favorite gardens in the world - The Chelsea Physic Garden and the Jardin Majorelle in Marrkesh - this book was a delight from beginning to end. Swift's commentary is both witty and informative. Highly recommended!
6 people found this helpful
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on March 15, 2016
This is my first Vivian Swift book and I am enthralled by it. I began reading about Paris because I am most familiar with that location, however I quickly let go my own memories and allowed myself to be led by Swift’s words and paintings. Touring her 9 gardens is a delight . The prose is clever and full of interest, even for a non-gardener. The illustrations are marvelous, miniature paintings with exquisite detail. This is a travel book like none other and I look forward to following Ms.Swift on future journeys.
5 people found this helpful
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on March 12, 2016
Another beautifully done book from Vivian Swift. I have all of her books and wish she could write more of them. I'm always anticipating her next adventure. She does beautiful drawings and the book is well written.
2 people found this helpful
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on March 16, 2016
Don't get me started about Vivian Swift and her joie de vivre which bounces off the pages of her latest book. It's charming, quirky, filled with fun and interesting unknown, at least to me, facts about the different gardens she showcases. Did I mention her watercolors? How about her sense of humor? Okay, I'm a fan, a big one.
2 people found this helpful
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on November 29, 2016
Vivian Swift's books are all delightful to the eye. When Wanderers Cease to Roam will probably always be my favorite, but this one is wonderful to leaf through. It is the perfect gift for any gardener in your life.
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on November 5, 2017
Vivian Swift's books are a treasured part of my garden book collection. Her art work is wonderful and her personal comments and reflections are great. I feel I am in the places she writes about.
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