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Gardens of the National Trust

Gardens of the National Trust
Stephen Lacey
New York: Harry Abrams
Publication Date: 

cloth, 320 p., $45.

At last, England's National Trust Gardens are presented in the kind of handsome volume they deserve. While there are several pocket-sized visitor's guides to these gardens, worthy though they may be for your travels, Stephen Lacey has written about each garden succinctly from a horticultural and historical viewpoint, managing to capture the essence of each garden. The photographs add to and illuminate the text in sharp colors, especially the double-page spreads. Sissinghurst's white garden, Stourhead's romanticism and Mount Stewart's colors, among others, benefit from the large size. More than a coffee table book, this volume contains material for serious study.

Trust Gardens range in size from under an acre to the very large: the 180-acre Cliveden with a staff of nine and 180-acre Wakehurst, a northerly outpost of Kew Gardens tended by 33 staff. Because of their importance to literature, the homes of Wordsworth, Thomas Hardy and Beatrix Potter are included under the Trust's auspicies, with their small gardens restored around them.

The gardens are described in alphabetical order in the book, with their names printed sideways at the upper right or left margins so that it is easy to leaf through. However, as thorough as the book is, it does not print an alphabetical listing of the gardens in the table of contents. It does, however, have a plant index in addition to the general index, and a valuable reference listing of gardens by specialty, with 39 types listed, such as conservatory, walled garden, rock garden, parterre and pleaching. Four national trust gardens have mazes — I just checked it in the listings! For both travelers, or garden lovers at home, this is a worthy addition to your library.

— Adele Kleine, Garden Writer and Contributing Writer for Chicagoland Gardening magazine