"Oh, the comfort, the delight I have had in my garden," an octogenarian grande dame of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recalls in an 1888 memoir. Alan Emmet's glimpse into more than two dozen gardens that graced New England's towns and countryside from just after the American Revolution into the twentieth century has delights of its own. Drawing from diaries, correspondence, historical records, sketch maps, and paintings, Emmet treats the garden--ranging from small urban retreats to ornamental estates of thousands of acres--as an art form and examines its evolution form the utilitarian to the ornate. Along with the useful--greenhouses, peach walls, and pergolas--are found the whimsical and the idiosyncratic. She describes teahouses, topiary trees, fountains, mazes, marble nymphs, and a three-story viewing tower. And ever-present, of course, are the plants themselves: roses, lilies, tree peonies, orchids, even southern magnolias, as well as towering elms, massive lindens, peaches, pears, and boxwood.
But as Emmet delves more deeply into who built these gardens and why, another story unfolds. The gardens, it seems, parallel their owners' lives, and embedded intheir history is the saga of families and their rising and falling tides. We see great houses inhabited by gentle ghosts, the boom and subsequent decay of the port towns, the emergence of a mercantile class, the metamorphosis of the cities into sprawling urban centers, and the establishment of institutions like the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Carefully chronicled, entertaining, and generously illustrated, Emmet's garden tour is very much worth taking.
Publisher: University Press of New England
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 1039 g
Dimensions: 279 x 216 x 17 mm
New York Times Book Review"
A lively illustrated social and horticultural book that adds a significant new dimension to our understanding of American garden history. "New York Times Book Review""
This beautifully illustrated, oversized volume chronicles the story of 16 gardens through New England in fantastic detail, providing something for everyone interested in historic gardens, from grand estates to smaller suburban plots. Meticulously researched, this volume is filled with many period illustrations and, thankfully, from a designer's and avid gardener's point of view, full of plans so that one can actually see and understand the layout of the landscapes in question . . . It's rare to find a book that makes as good an addition to the coffee table as it does to the reference shelf, but this is surely the case . . . A superlative volume. "Traditional Gardening""
From these garden plots spring narrative plots: fully spun tales of family fortunes made and lost, stately houses built and destroyed, seduction, betrayal, grand passion, and unrequited love . . . Emmet's gardens leave you with the sense that you've just enjoyed a rich collection of horticultural morality tales. "Garden Design""