Here are two delectable, serious and beautifully illustrated books describing between them the history of fourteen English gardens over nearly four hundred years. In This Other Eden all seven gardens are still alive and well, some better than they have ever been and still changing along with their times and owners. In The Riverside Gardens of Thomas More’s London every garden except for Hampton Court is gone. They are ghost-gardens along the river’s banks from the Southwark gardens of Winchester Palace –owned by the richest bishop in the land and destroyed by fire in 1814 – to More’s beloved sixteenth-century gardens which he created when he moved to rural Chelsea.
Both books are about the interrelation of garden history and national politics; how the fall of great gardens mirrors the fall of princes. The first chapter of This Other Eden is an account of the making of Hatfield House and the years spent creating its gardens with almost insane passion.