Put plainly, this doorstop of a reference book is worth its weight in gold. Its stiff green covers enclose the history of gardens from ancient to modern in all corners of the globe; biographies of landscapers, nurserymen, gardeners and garden writers; definitions for garden features, terms and styles, and garden issues (climate change, color theory, the spirit of place, gardens for the disabled); and much more.
And as one would expect from such an eminent source ("written by scholars but not for scholars") and the international team who contributed their talents, each gram of text is authoritative, enlightening and beautifully written. Every snippet and article paints a picture of its time with humor and trivia. Color photos of great gardens and vintage engravings provide respite from the print.
This book updates a 1986 version with a slightly different title, but the listings for Southern California seem spare and incomplete -- only the two Gettys, Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens and UCLA.
But with 1,750 enticing entries, this comprehensive tome will be appreciated on summer days, winter evenings, in all seasons and over the years.
-- Lili Singer