paper, 224 p., $29.95
As much a travel as a garden piece, this lavishly photographed book takes you on a journey through some of the most luxuriant public and private gardens of the Oriental tropics, more specifically those of Malaysia, Thailand, Hawaii and Sri Lanka. Anyone who combines a green thumb with a love of the exotic and a healthy dose of wanderlust should find this book a real treat. It opens with an interesting history of tropical gardens, beginning with the craze for tropical plants in Victorian times; the development of the greenhouse; and the resulting proliferation throughout the world of descriptions of the tropical gardens themselves. Some are world-famous, such as the Kebun Raya Botanical Garden at Bogor in Java, celebrated for its collection of tree ferns and orchids, and the Pamplemousee Garden in Sri Lanka, the first botanical garden established in the tropics. Many are public gardens, like the gardens of the Shangri La Hotel in Singapore and Hyatt Hotel in Bali. Others are private, most notably Vidal Sasson's garden in Bangkok and the Miyano Garden on Oahu. All are beautifully designed and lush with casuarinas, calatheas, cordylines and all manner of tropical plants. If you have an ounce of escapism in you, and can't get away this winter, what better way to dodge the January doldrums than with this book?
— Jim Kemper