paper, 190 p., $29.95
In this personal remembrance of the homes and gardens of family members of the great banking firm of Rothchild and Company, Miriam Rothchild and Lionel de Rothchild, assisted by garden writer Kate Garton, recall the lavish, exuberant style gardens of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Whether there was a family gene that motivated a special interest in nature, such enthusiasm was regularly shared among the founder’s descendents, including their wives. As the banking firm grew larger and the brothers were sent to the different capitols of Europe to manage the business, their homes and gardens became scattered across the continent. Selecting a few major and singularly impressive sites, the authors ably recount their personal memories of the gardens, their gardeners, the plant collections, and their owners.
Despite a personal regard for their relatives, the authors comment on both the individual brilliance and foibles of their kin. They make it clear that there was an apparent competition for perfection between siblings and their offspring in the development of their individual garden sites and the number of prizes won in flower show competitions entered by their gardeners.
The book is handsomely illustrated with archival materials and stunning photos by the distinguished photographer Andrew Lawson. Though fate was not kind to so many sites, the gardens live again in these pages.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden