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Historic Gardens Book Reviews

Historic gardens bring the past alive. They’re an important part of our gardening legacy. Here are reviews of books about some influential garden designers.

“The Gardens of Russell Page” by Marina Schinz and Gabrielle van Zuylen was released by Frances Lincoln. Beautifully conceived, this does justice to its subject. This award winning title focuses on the life and career of Page (1906-1985), an award winning garden designer who received many honors during his lifetime.

Page was a trained artist who chose to become a garden designer because of his love for gardens and plants. In addition to designing public and private gardens, he was also an educator and author whose work appeared in books and magazines. He created gardens all over the globe in both the Old and New World. The authors were friends of Page.

For this book, they visited the gardens and did extensive research. They also had access to his unpublished writings and private files. This book is illustrated with 250 lush photos by Schinz along with historic sketches. It has a chronology of Page’s life and works. There are chapters devoted to each phase of his career. This also devotes particular attention to some of the geographic locations where he worked. The authors also look at some of the various influences on his work.

Both water and trees were recurring themes in many of his designs. For that reason, the authors explain how these expressed themselves in his gardens.

Though some of Page’s gardens no longer exist, this remarkable volume illustrates the majesty of his genius.

Though Frank Lloyd Wright is best known for his architecture, he didn’t neglect the landscapes surrounding the structures. Rather than relegating the task of creating the landscape to a landscape architect, as most architects did, he took this upon himself. By doing so, he ensured that the home and garden complemented each other and fit within the natural setting.

Frances Lincoln has published a groundbreaking book on this subject. “The Gardens of Frank Lloyd Wright” is by Derek Fell with a foreword by James van Sweden. This is beautifully illustrated with lush color photos by Fell. This book is based on extensive research and interviews carried out by the author.

In this book, the author highlights four of Wright’s best known gardens. But, he also looks at other landscapes created by the architect. This book also provides background on Wright’s garden styles, particularly the prairie style, which he pioneered, and his desert style. Wright advocated the use of native plants.

The author explores the various influences in Wright’s life and career. These include his love of nature and his friendship with Jens Jensen.

This book also offers some landscape tips from Wright.

There is also a chronology of Wright’s life and work as well as information on visiting the Wright landscapes that are open to the public.

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