Gardens Through History

Nature Perfected

By William Howard Adams

Photographer Everett Scott

Release Date
Format Hardcover 356 pages 9.88 x 9.88 inches 301 illustrations, 253 in full color
ISBN-13 978-0-89659-919-2

The gardens of the world's great civilizations are revealed through sumptuous color plates and a fascinating text.

With its sumptuous color plates, comprehensive scope, and fascinating text, this ground-breaking international history of the garden as an art form is easily the most ambitious and rewarding work of its kind. Beginning with the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, this book skillfully uncovers the evidence of gardening through the art, history, and literature of these early sites of culture, as well as later findings of archaeology. It then takes us farther afield into the later civilizations of Islam and Mughal India, reveals the important contributions of Italy and France, China and Japan, lingers in the incomparable gardens of England, and finally transports us to the New World.

Structured around themes of the international exchange of aesthetic ideas and the exciting saga of the study, cultivation, and distribution of plant life, the book's progression is both chronological and geographic; each chapter identifies and discusses the major design and horticultural contributions made to garden history in each period and by each society. Although there have been numerous garden histories, there has never been one of this historical and global scope, a history that is solidly based in the author's vast learning, both in the worlds of literature and art as well as gardening, and graced by is masterful prose.

Another factor that differentiates this comprehensive history from the others is its final section, which explores the dramatic impact on Europe of the discovery in 1492 of a new continent with its own unique flora and fauna, which led to the opening of a fresh chapter in science. The author develops this section of the book through an extensive coverage of the history of garden culture in the Western Hemisphere, beginning with the worldwide exchange of new plant discoveries starting in the seventeenth century as European plantsmen scoured the world for exotic additions to the plantings in fledgling botanical gardens. Beginning with what is known of colonial American gardens and the extraordinary efforts in this century to reconstruct them at such sites as Mount Vernon, Monticello, and especially Williamsburg, the author leads us through the accomplishments of New World gardeners, including those of South America and Mexico, ending up with a survey of the newest international developments in gardening.

From ancient Persia to the modern private estates of Europe and North America, gardening has been one of the most consistent signs of a great civilization and the most visually absorbing expression of culture.

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