Book Review: The Water Garden

Superb photography coupled with Geddes-Brown’s knowledgeable writing make for a dynamite combination in this visually stunning tour of some of the world’s most beautiful gardens. Distinctive water features is the unifying theme of the many diverse gardens showcased here. After a brief history of ancient eastern gardens and their influence on contemporary designs, the focus moves to existing oriental gardens including Kyoto, Japan’s Tenryu-ji originally planted in 1339 and West Lake in Hangzhou, China. Persian influences with their straight lines, gently bubbling fountains and strong color usage abound in the chapter on Islamic Gardens as shown by the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh, Morocco. Of particular interest are the insights into the Dillon Garden in Dublin, Ireland overseen by Helen Dillon. Tired of the “glumly staring” lawn, Mrs. Dillon made what to many, was a shocking decision to rip up the turf, replacing it with a formal canal surrounded by a riot of colorful, often rare plants. It is a real gem and a living testimonial to Mrs. Dillon’s skill and vision. Twenty-first century designers include Steve Martino with his austere materials usage as seen in the Stiteler Garden and the carefully sculpted landscapes of Charles Jencks’ Garden of Cosmic Speculation which plays with fractals.

Whether your taste is for the elaborate fountains of formal gardens, the grand scope of landscape gardens or the refined elegance of Charlotte Rowe’s small town garden, there are plenty of ideas and eye-candy presented in this collection to keep busy plotting and planning your perfect garden for years to come. This beautifully produced volume will be savored by anyone with an interest in or a love for gardens and water’s soothing influence.


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