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The Gardens of Portugal Book Review

One glance at the cover lets you know you’re in for a treat. “The Gardens of Portugal” is by Helena Attlee with lush, full color photos by John Ferro Sims. This was published by Frances Lincoln. The large format with lush, full page photos does justice to these awe-inspiring gardens.

While there seems to be lots of books about French and Italian gardens, the same is by no means true for Portugal. Happily, this delightful book fills that void. Off the beaten track, Portuguese gardens can be enjoyed to the fullest by visitors wishing to avoid the hordes of travelers in other travel hot-spots. This is more than a garden travel book for it presents the fascinating history of the gardens and garden design within the area.

Readers will revel in the rare view of paradise offered in these gardens. This title will be enjoyed by arm chair travelers as well as those planning visits to the area.

It provides a photographic survey and a comprehensive history of gardens and gardening in the country. The author deftly places the gardens within their historical perspective, and explains how the cultural influences of the times helped to shape the gardens.

This showcases a total of 21 memorable gardens, most of which are open to the public. There is a chapter for each one. In addition to the profiled gardens, the author also provides a complete list of other gardens as well.

This book is divided into two parts with one section for each area of the country. The first part features those of Porto and Northern Portugal, while the gardens of Lisbon and Central Portugal appear in the second part.

At the beginning of each section is an in-depth history of the region, and discussion of the plants that are most commonly seen in the gardens. The author explains how the gardens reveal the rich heritage of plants, which resulted from the country’s prominent role in world explorations.

The individual garden profiles feature everything one would want to know, including contact information. These include an engrossing account of the garden with a complete background covering its history and creation along with any changes that have been made over the years. Readers can also learn about the various garden features in each garden and details about the garden’s design.

The author is a leading expert on Mediterranean garden design and garden history. She has written extensively on the subject. She also leads garden tours in Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

Sims is a noted photographer and co-author of many books, including garden titles.

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