I have just spent the better part of three days surfing this sumptuous volume and can’t say that I regret it in the least. It was delightful. I found the temptation to leap from (say) Dumbarton Oaks to Beatrix Farrand to Frederick Law Olmsted or Charles Sargent, getting snagged along the way by feng shui or Ninfa or perhaps a superb short discussion of Renaissance gardens, pretty well irresistible. Every page contains dozens of curious facts. There are miniature biographies, descriptions of famous and little-known gardens both existing and vanished, definitions of garden elements and styles, historical essays, and extended takeouts on garden-making in different countries and regions all over the world. In short, a staggering piece of work.
It should be understood that this is a companion to gardens, not gardening. It won’t tell you how to design, plant, or cultivate a garden, any more than The Oxford Companion to Wine tells you how to trample grapes. Rather, this is a guide to and celebration of gardens as