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Gardens in China

Art / Photobook

By: Peter Valder

400 pages, Col photos, b/w photos, col illus, bw illus

Timber Press

Hardback | Jun 2002 | #133113 | ISBN: 0881925551
Temporarily out of stock: order now to get this when available Details
NHBS Price: £44.99 $59/€51 approx

About this book

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


Through Western eyes; the centre; the north; the south; the east; the west.

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Born in Australia and brought up in the bush, Peter Valder's early interest in the Australian flora was stimulated by local amateur botanists. He went on to become a plant pathologist and mycologist after graduating from the Universities of Sydney and Cambridge. He was pleased to later become involved in the teaching of general botany in addition to his mycological work. Peter has also been an office bearer of the Linnean Society and the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science. Since drifting into the popularizing of Australian botany and horticulture, he has made appearances on radio and television, written for magazines, and lectured to organizations concerned with plants and gardens. His interest in gardening has taken him to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, and China, from which he has introduced numerous plants suited to the Australian climate. Also, he has visited gardens in Britain, New Zealand, North America, France, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, and Korea, accumulating photographs with which to illustrate his lectures and writings. His involvement with his family's garden, Nooroo, at Mount Wilson, New South Wales, led to its becoming one of Australia's most admired gardens. It was here that he was able to indulge his enthusiasm for plants from all over the world. Amongst other things, he gathered together a remarkable collection of wisteria, his experience with which led to his writing Wisterias, the first monograph on this genus in any European language. It was the success of this book that encouraged him to utilize his long-standing interest in Chinese plants and gardens to write The Garden Plants of China, which was awarded as the Reference Gardening Book of 1999 by the Garden Writer's Guild of the UK. To recognize his gifts of plants to and voluntary work for the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, in 1995 he was made their first Honorary Horticultural Associate, and in 1996 was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of his contribution to botany and horticulture in that country.

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