Arcadias of the West

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

‘It would be nice to have something like this at home,’ Pierre S du Pont, the owner of Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, wrote after a visit to the famous sixteenth-century Villa d’Este in Italy in 1910. As a scion of the du Pont chemical dynasty, he had the funds to do just that, creating what […]

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The Garden Over the Pond

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

‘Encourage the creepers.’ This was the American garden designer Charles Platt’s advice on low-maintenance lawncare to his client William Gwinn Mather, president of the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, in 1933, at the height of the Depression, when even plutocrats felt the need to tighten their belts. Or adjust their braces, or whatever it is that plutocrats […]

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A Blackbird’s Nest

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

This exceptional book is billed as garden writing, but it is garden writing only in the sense that Moby-Dick is a treatise on whales. There is no need to have the slightest knowledge of or interest in horticulture to be enchanted by it. The author calls it ‘this blackbird’s nest of cobwebs and sheep’s wool’, […]

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Busy Lizzy

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

I have to confess that I have not come across anything quite like this book masquerading under the guise of garden history. It recounts the creation of the gardens at Kenilworth Castle by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and those at Theobalds by William Cecil, Lord Burghley, and is billed with Hello-style hype as ‘a […]

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RLF - March