From Publishers Weekly
Horticulturalist and ornamental plant historian Adams hopes "that everyone will choose to garden with heirloom plants." This extensive exploration of the evolution of American gardens will inspire many readers to do just that. Home gardeners will discover untried plants and rediscover familiar ones from a rich historical perspective, while professional and amateur designers alike will find a wealth of practical information on how to approach the historic landscape, document key features, develop a list of appropriate plants and pursue investigations. Furthermore, the book has considerable appeal for non-gardeners, as Adams offers many insights into the development of American domestic culture. Early chapters briskly review the art and science of historic gardens. From there, Adams's enthusiasm is infectious, as she explains techniques for interpreting old garden sites, describes design styles for typical building types and discusses traditions in different geographic regions. The bulk of the volume-the encyclopedia itself-differs from usual plant listings by including incisive design notes and remarks. Whenever possible, Adams quotes original sources, creating a brief historical record for each plant. Antique and contemporary photographs and illustrations support the text and offer glimpses of American gardens of the past. Ample, detailed appendices and a comprehensive bibliography add greater value to what's destined to become an indispensable reference for anyone interested in heirloom ornamentals and their history.
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As the trend to restore or rehabilitate one's garden increases among individuals who possess property endowed with a historic provenance, so, too, does the need for further research into the gardenscapes of earlier eras. Thus, Adams' effort is most timely, and the abundant material on ornamental plants she presents covers more than 1,000 that are considered to be cultural heirlooms--species that most definitely merit conservation. Adams provides information to help determine garden elements that once existed on a given plot of land, and guidance on how to decide on period features suited to the architecture of a given setting. She also scrutinizes traditions relating to geographic regions from coast to coast, and presents extensive appendixes that should gratify the most detail-oriented reader. The home gardener, professional landscape designer, bed-and-breakfast proprietor, and all those who have taken to heart the task of re-creating plantings that are in keeping with a mode of yesteryear will love delving into this satisfying, well-organized, and beautifully produced resource. Alice JoyceCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved