Jun 18, 2018

The Education of a Gardener

by Russell Page

This volume is about the career of a landscape architect. I am not familiar with the author, but apparently he is renowned in gardening circles. He spent his entire life designing outdoor spaces for the wealthy after creating his first garden at age 18. I read the initial chapter where he tells about how he first became interested in plants and gleaned knowledge from all his neighbors who gardened, and then struggled to stay with the book. It's very strongly focused on design, on balance and form and how the eye is led through a landscape. Stuff on a grand scale. While the principles are something I'd probably benefit from understanding better, personally I found the reading rather dry. And over half the plants were unfamiliar to me. All the photographs are in black and white, which I suppose is okay because you see the form and composition of things, instead of being wowed by beauty and color- but it felt rather flat and dull. I skipped around trying to find something a bit more engaging, but even when he was describing design problems and how plants or sketches solved them, it failed to keep my interest. The last chapter, where he imagines a garden he would build for himself, was more intriguing, however only for the first few pages.

I'd like to like this book, but I don't. Why is it that whenever I don't care for a classic, I feel disappointed in myself? Urg. It's quite dense, and not just with the words- it's also surprisingly heavy for the size of a standard hardback book- so I became physically weary of handling it. Nothing against the author for that, but it did make it harder to try and appreciate a book I just didn't want to be holding for long.

Abandoned          382 pages, 1962

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