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Some Garden History Books

While some garden books offer practical advice on gardening or choosing plants, others focus on related issues such as plant exploration or historical developments in the gardening world. Here are some books that provide insight into some aspects of garden and plant history.

“Magnificent Buildings, Splendid Gardens” by David R. Coffin has been reissued by Princeton University Press. The author was a leading expert on Renaissance architecture and garden history. This collection of essays was edited by Vanessa Bezemer Sellers. These essays are based on Coffin’s own original research into archival materials. This book is divided into four sections. These include drawings, scholars, architecture and architects, and garden/landscape designers.

Each chapter deals with a particular garden or individual designer. This is lushly illustrated with historical plates and sketches.

These 20 essays explore a wide range of architectural and landscape topics. These include not only the designs and the designers but the artistic/design elements and features that are used. For each design, Coffin explains detail by detail what visitors would see.

Of all the historic gardens, none can match those of Louis XIV. This story is beautifully told in a groundbreaking book released by Bloomsbury. “The Sun King’s Garden-Louis XIV, Andre Le Notre and the Creation of the Gardens of Versailles” is by Ian Thompson. This is illustrated with sketches, garden plans, historic plates, and artworks.

This engaging title represents history writing at its best. It follows the lives of these two men who developed a lifelong friendship and professional relationship that culminated in the most ambitious garden projects in Europe. This book reveals how the gardens were the result of collaboration between the two parties for the king preferred a hands-on approach. This book also explains how the gardens served as a stage on which social and political events were enacted.

Gardens are an integral part of cultural life. They’re affected by many influences and movements. One such example is the Enlightenment, which began sometime around during the late 17th century. This movement set the stage for modern science, particularly botany. Getty Publications has released the essential guide to the Enlightenment. “Panorama of the Enlightenment” by Dorinda Outram features over 400 illustrations, many of which are full color.

This comprehensive book traces the evolution of this intellectual revolution and its far reaching influence on society and the individuals who played key roles. This also presents a timeline and a glossary of places where one can still experience the ambience of the Enlightenment.

Each chapter addresses a different aspect of the movement. The introduction provides a background on its origins. The first chapter explains what the Enlightenment involved and the role of Diderot’s encyclopedia.

Another chapter deals with the social aspects of Enlightenment life with regard to coffee houses, public gathering places, and literacy. Others explore topics like the role of the family, marriage, family life and the home, psychology, architecture, and world exploration.

One chapter covers the role of science and medicine in the Enlightenment. This explains the conflicting views of the scientists and the theologians. Initially, science was not regarded as highly as some other aspects of Enlightenment life. Over time this changed.

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