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English Gardens in the Twentieth Century

English Gardens in the Twentieth Century
Tim Richardson
Aurum Press
Publication Date: 

cloth, 208 p., $65.00

Garden historian Tim Richardson has successfully tackled a most challenging task in this review of English gardens. He deftly presents an overview of the differences in gardening styles during a period of exuberant growth in this art form in a nation that prizes highly such efforts. A contemporary landscape critic, journalist, and former gardens editor for the English magazine Country Life, he has collected black and white images from its photographic archives to illustrate specific gardens and styles, creating an authentic documentation of the period.

Richardson begins his examination of the era with a discussion of the horticultural background and the individuals who initially influenced the direction of garden design. His knowledge is formidable, and his words reflect an intimate acquaintance with these human forces, for he corrects several misinterpretations found in previous biographies. In the chapters that follow, he defines and describes the different types of revival-style gardens that flourished prior to World War II; the introduction of the Modernist style in the 1920s, and the gardening trends from 1940 forward. His critiques of contemporary fashions in landscaping are enlightening.

Although the information is specific to the English scene, many British garden designers have plied their craft in America, so the material is relevant on this side of the Atlantic. Americans will find the text particularly interesting when comparing garden styles here and abroad. Filling a special niche in garden history literature, this publication will fast become a classic and is highly recommended.

— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden