- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Frances Lincoln; Illustrated edition (September 22, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0711228868
- ISBN-13: 978-0711228863
- Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 1.2 x 12.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Great Gardens of America Hardcover – Illustrated, September 22, 2009
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What makes American gardens American’?
That is the question author Tim Richardson seeks to answer in his stunning new book Great Gardens of America.
Richardson’s tour of America’s great gardens includes historic properties such as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charleston, Virginia, and Middleton Place outside of Charleston, South Carolina. But he also includes more unusual gardens, such as the Donnell Garden in Sonoma, California with the most beautiful swimming pool in the world” and the wonderfully stark Baja Garden in the Sonoran Desert surrounding Phoenix, Arizona.
But what makes these gardens uniquely American?
By contrasting them with the historic and famous gardens of Europe, which heavily influenced the design of many American gardens, Richardson concludes that American gardens embrace what he calls the wilderness ideal.” Sweeping vistas that celebrate the unbounded feel of American wilderness are celebrated by American garden makers. In contrast, says Richardson, even the most naturalistic of European gardens display nature as carefully managed and under control rather than wild.
American gardens as celebrating the wildness of nature is a theme that Richardson revisits throughout the tour of the 25 gardens showcased in the book.
The photographs in the book are by Andrea Jones, an acclaimed photographer who also produced the sumptuous volume Plantworlds.
Don’t mistake Great Gardens of America as a dry an academic treatise or just another coffee table book though. Richardson’s writing is well-researched and often sprinkled with a wry phrase that makes you chuckle when you least expect it. He manages to convey the expanse and feel of the gardens’ character through his narrativea not insignificant task, if you’ve ever tried describing a garden. There is much to learn from his descriptions and his overarching theme of the American garden as embracing wilderness.
Thank you Frances Lincoln Ltd for giving us a publication that allows us to visit some of the great gardens of North America, without having to leave home. This book surveys garden estates and private parks in practically every climate zone in the U.S. and Canada. Twenty five gardens with 300 brilliant photographs are included. For each garden surveyed, the author provides an interesting combination of historical and architectural background that helps to identify the landowner’s personal contribution to the garden design.
This is a remarkable publication in that it defines the uniqueness of North American gardens in contrast to their European counterparts. What makes them different is the American appreciation for wide vistas as opposed to the building or object-focused gardens in Europe. In addition, there is a markedly different attitude towards wilderness. The British gardens were intent on keeping out bandits and wild animals. In North America, there is a frontier mentality of living in harmony with nature. Consequently, we see how American gardens include distant vistas into their design by framing these perspectives with trees and shrubs planted in the foreground. As well, by living in harmony with nature and allowing pastureland to creep up to the front door of the home, the ”cult of the American lawn” was developed.
From The National Gardener
A British garden historian and critic of contemporary landscape architecture, Tim Richardson, puts forth his selection of the top gardens in the United States and Canada in this lavishly illustrated volume on landscape design. Gorgeously photographed by the award-winning photographer Andrea Jones, these enchanting sites are generally located on the east and west coasts of North America and typically on large estates and display gardens. In his appraisal of twenty-five places he summaries the distinguishing qualities of the individual landscapes, ranging in styles from the colonial to the avant-garde; he reports on their histories; their owners’ interests; designers’ goals; and important horticultural collections. Richardson skillfully contrasts the highlighted properties through his organization of chapters, expertly maintaining reader’s interest throughout the book. His critical analyses of the works of leading contemporary landscape architects is insightful and provides the reader with cutting edge knowledge on the direction of modern design. Destined to be a classic for its scholarly survey, the book is a pleasure to read.
From C Magazine
It should come as no surprise that five of the 25 gardens in Great Gardens of America are in the Golden State. From the public wonders of San Marino's Huntington Desert Garden, Cornerstone Place in Sonoma, Santa Barbara's Lotusland and Woodside's Filoli to the private sanctuary of Sonoma's Donnell Gardeneach define what author Tim Richardson calls "America's embrace of the wilderness ideal."
About the Author
Tim Richardson is a writer who specializes in garden and landscape design and history. He has been gardens editor at Country Life, and landscape editor at Wallpaper* magazine, and was founding editor of both the award-winning gardens magazine New Eden and Country Life Gardens. He now contributes mostly to the Daily Telegraph, House and Garden, Gardens Illustrated and Country Life. He is the author of Phaidon's The Garden Book, Vanguard Landscapes Gardens of Martha Schwartz, English Gardens of the 20th Century and the award-winning The New English Garden published by Frances Lincoln. He is also editor of Vista: the Culture and Politics of Gardens (Frances Lincoln).
Andrea Jones is one of the world's foremost garden photographers, having built up an international reputation for her photographs of landscape architecture, gardens and plants. The latter was the subject of Andrea's critically acclaimed solo book Plantworlds (2005). She has collaborated on numerous other book projects since Bold Plants and Grasses and Bamboos, both by Noel Kingsbury (1999). Andrea's collection of work forms the stock library Garden Exposures and appears in the international press including Gardens Illustrated, Garden Design (USA), House and Garden and The Daily Telegraph. Based in Scotland, Andrea is a Fellow of the RSA and exhibits her work around the world having had several successful solo exhibitions in both the UK and US. In 2008/9 she was voted Photographer of the Year by her peers in the UK's Garden Media Guild.
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By Tim Richardson
Frances Lincoln Ltd
Thank you Frances Lincoln Ltd for giving us a publication that allows us to visit some of the great gardens of North America, without having to leave home. This book surveys garden estates and private parks in practically every climate zone in the U.S. and Canada. Twenty five gardens with 300 brilliant photographs are included. For each garden surveyed, the author, Tim Richardson, provides an interesting combination of historical and architectural background that helps to identify the landowner's personal contribution to the garden design.
This is a remarkable publication in that it defines the uniqueness of North American gardens in contrast to their European counterparts. What makes them different is the American appreciation for wide vistas as opposed to object or building focused gardens in Europe. In addition, there is a markedly different attitude towards wilderness. The British gardens were intent on keeping out bandits and wild animals. In North America, there is a frontier mentality of living in harmony with nature. Consequently, we see how uniquely American gardens include distant vistas into their design by framing these perspectives with trees and shrubs planted in the foreground. As well, by living in harmony with nature and allowing pastureland to creep up to the front door of the home, the "cult of the American lawn" was developed.
The gardens surveyed in this book range from Jefferson's 18th century Montecello, to an early 20th century Rockefeller estate Kykuit, through modernist gardens commissioned by bold patrons, up to the conceptual curated gardens in Metis Quebec and Sonoma California. The most controversial of them all is the Lurie Garden in Chicago Illinois designed by Piet Oudolf. Here the armchair traveler is given an opportunity to evaluate the results of a garden conceived in the "New Perennial Style".
Some of the more interesting details revealed in this book include the fact that at Kykuit, the largest gardens surveyed, modern sculptures were brilliantly incorporated into a turn-of-the- century garden. We also discover that Viscaya is the closest copy of an Italianate garden in America. The enchanting garden rooms at Dumbarton Oaks demonstrate how one is able to beautifully landscape a property on an ugly slope. This garden offers a sense of perpetual movement that has been captured so insightfully by the book's photographer Andrea Jones.
Special mention also needs to be made of Windcliff in Seattle Washington as "one of the most horticulturaly dynamic private gardens of our times". Here Dan Hinkley's design includes an interplay of color and texture that is rarely seen on properties of this size. The accompanying photos on pages 74 and 75 are such a powerful inspiration to garden designers that they alone should easily justify the purchase of this book. This publication should be a prime candidate for the best garden book of the year.
Allan Becker reviews books on gardening for[...]
More so than other countries, the great gardens of America incorporate and sometimes represent the vegetation and atmosphere of their locations (rather than aim to create sanctuaries distinct from their surroundings). In most cases, the location is the source for the idea or inspiration of the garden.
A location on Long Island for instance lent itself to a house overlooking a pond resembling the famous Shinto shrine at Ise in Japan. The gardens around this house expand on the Japanese reference with their ponds, antiquities, and sculpture seen in Japanese gardens.
This attunement with specifics and moods of the natural world notable in Japanese landscape and garden design is seen too in most of the other gardens. Lurie Park in the city of Chicago carries this approach to an exceptionally imaginative point. This park crisscrossed by walkways is like a patch of original prairie with its wildflowers, grasses, and other vegetation.
Quebec to the American Southwest, the American Northwest to Miami is the territorial range of the gardens. Within this range come gardens in California, New York, Midwestern states, and others. Each of the 25 gardens is viewed in an individual section with an engaging and informative play of words and photographs. The text of the writer Richardson rests of his background as a garden historian and landscape architecture critic. The text brings out the general and particular features of each garden by relating the origins of the design, historical points, and biographical and stylistic matters about the property owner and the landscape designer.
Jones' 300 color photographs of varying sizes and perspectives (wide-scale to close-up) work in coordination with the text. Jones is the 2008 Royal Horticulture Society/Garden Media Guild's Photographer of the Year.
While visually appealing and informative, the book goes beyond the typical style and intent of an art/coffee-table book. It's obvious that more editorial and design thought went into it. For text and photographs working together openly and implicitly are like a memorable guided walking tour through each of the gardens.