Gardening books

June 24, 2011

The spring season for flower and garden shows has ended, but with the help of these books, avid green thumbs can find inspiration as they start to plan for next year.

1 Envisioning the Garden: Line, Scale, Distance, Form, Color, and Meaning , by Robert Mallet, translated by Bryan Woy (Norton, $39.95). This classy paperback takes a cerebral approach to garden design, offering insightful essays on some of its essential facets— i.e., the lineup described in the book’s subtitle. The author is the former director of Le Bois de Moutiers, a house in upper Normandy with striking grounds which was created by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens at the behest of Mallet’s grandfather at the turn of the century. The garden also boasts planting plans provided by the renowned landscape designer Gertrude Jekyll.The author’s goal was to balance the text with a bounty of visual elements, which here include his own lush photographs and drawings by architect Yves Poinsot.

2 Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden , by Adrian Higgins (Univ. of Pennsylvania, $29.95).The Main Line, that bastion of old-money townships in suburban Philadelphia, is the setting of this vibrant, multi-dimensional garden. Situated on 47 acres in the village of Wayne, the nucleus of Chanticleeris the 10 acres of the original, historic Rosengarten estate, which its last owner, Adolph Rosengarten Jr., chose to incorporate into a public garden that he began to lay out in 1970. He added acreage, a blue-chip staff of horticulturists and a well-endowed foundation to boot. Our guide is Adrian Higgins, The Post’s garden editor, who made numerous forays to Chanticleer and chatted with its savvy horticultural staff, which is under constant pressure to exceed expectations. As the gorgeous photographs by Rob Cardillo attest, they often succeed.

3 American Eden: From Monticello to Central Park to Our Backyards: What Our Gardens Tell Us About Who We Are , by Wade Graham (Harper, $35). This is a sweeping history of the garden in America, from pre-Revolutionary times (think Williamsburg) to the present day (New York City’s High Line Park). Gardening, the author notes, is just as much a reflection of personal values, desires and notions of happiness as the clothes on one’s back. Thanks to history’s egalitarian influences, not to mention Martha Stewart, gardening has ceased to be the purview of the well-to-do only, but it still can impart power and wealth. A beautifully illustrated volume, perfect for dipping into over and over again, “American Eden” will educate you about all manner of gardening history and perhaps just a bit about yourself.

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