400 pages, Col photos, b/w photos, col illus, bw illus
Valder describes more than 200 gardens he has visited in China. He documents temple courtyards and gardens, evocative enclosures of ancient burial grounds and imperial tombs, and public parks, botanical gardens and arboreta, most of which have sprung up since 1949. Includes more than 500 colour photographs, many depicting gardens not previously illustrated in any Western publication
Gardening and China do not automatically match when put together but a quick look into the past soon dispels that myth. Think of the plant-hunters during the Golden Age of Victoria's reign. Camellias, wisterias, cherries, rhododendrons and azaleas, bamboos, philadelphus - all originated in this vast country, brought back to Europe to become everyday garden plants. Retired botanist, Peter Valder, inspired by these intrepid plant-hunters, had long wanted to explore the country's gardening heritage and it is in this gloriously illustrated work that he can expound on what he found. Not just palaces and temples but public parks, backstreet courtyards and private houses, giving a true picture of China's gardening habits. Inspired more by nature, philosophy and cosmology than plants themselves, the gardens have an alien feel to those more used to flowers in neat borders and well-tended lawns. Dominated by rocks and sculptures, they create a mystical picture, further estranged from Europe by the Chinese architecture in the background. An intelligent, informative and intriguing book, it opens up a whole new world of horticultural inspiration, which for many years has remained hidden behind Chinese inscrutability. - Lucy Watson
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