It's rare to come across a book of such stupendous beauty as Phaidon's 'The Gardener's Garden'.
‘The ultimate garden book’ trumpeted the publicity for The Gardener’s Garden. It was a claim which got us worried: all too often, publisher’s bullish claims end in disappointment;. But when a publisher makes a big claim which turns out to be entirely? Well, that makes us happy. Very happy indeed.
And ‘very happy indeed’ is how we’ve felt poring through The Gardener’s Garden, newly published in midi format by Phaidon, which is an unrivalled collection of over 250 of the world’s finest gardens, selected by a panel of green-fingered greats including Ravindra Bhan, Madison Cox, Toby Musgrave, Bill Noble, Dan Pearson and Made Wijaya.
The book is a sumptuous treat for anybody with even a passing interest in gardens and gardening; page after page dripping with beautiful photography of breathtaking outdoor spaces from across the world. There are over 1300 pictures in all.
As you can see from the images on this page, all manner of different types of garden are covered. There are arid desert spaces strewn with rocks and cacti; lush tropical creations full of mystery and gloom; magical Oriental layouts with painstaking details; and picture-perfect English country gardens. There is a mix of the famous and obscure, the ancient and the modern, the formal and wild, and even the public and the private.
While the book is a visual treat, it’s more than just a coffee table tome. The text running down the side of each double-page spread gives all sorts of information about the gardens, how they came to be, and the details of the plants in them.
This new midi format version is a double-edged sword in this respect: while the smaller tome is much more usable as a reference work – since it is far lighter and more wieldy – the size of the type appears to have suffered. Not that this is a serious problem: the words are for reference rather than extended spells of reading, and the pictures are every bit as splendid in the smaller format.