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Asian Gardens: History, Beliefs, and Design

Asian Gardens: History, Beliefs, and Design
Tom Turner
Publication Date: 

Cloth, 336 pp., $62.95

In this book, Tom Turner presents a fascinating history of Asian gardens. In this work, we are introduced to an incredible range of landscapes and gardens found throughout Asia. The first three parts of the book provide chronological accounts of the development of gardens in west, south, and east Asia. Parts four through six present the sacred Hindu gardens in Asia as well as Buddhist gardens in Sri Lanka, southeast Asia, China, and Japan. Very different gardens appear in a final section on abstract and modern gardens in Asia.

Turner's experiences of some 40 years in Asia form the basis for this monograph. His hypothesis is “that the art of making gardens originated in the zone of interchange between the lifestyles of nomads and settlers” (p. vii). Nomads created natural gardens while settlers developed more formal gardens, often enclosed by walls. The development of natural and formal gardens is meticulously traced by Turner, supplemented with diagrams and photographs. He also discusses the beliefs and symbols represented in many of the sacred places. This book is quite detailed and well illustrated, giving the reader a wonderful background to understand the meaning of Asian gardens beyond their obvious beauty and serenity.

— Joan Richards, volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden