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Stephen Anderton, who knew Christopher Lloyd well for over twenty years, is a gardening writer whose books include Rejuvenating a Garden, Urban Sanctuaries and Discovering Welsh Gardens. He is gardening correspondent of The Times and formerly National Gardens Manager for English Heritage. Stephen Anderton has had access for the first time to Christo's chaotic, 100-year archive of papers relating to the house, garden and family.
Christopher Lloyd (Christo) was one of the greatest English gardeners of the twentieth century, perhaps the finest plantsman of them all. His creation is the garden at Great Dixter in East Sussex, and it is a tribute to his vision and achievement that, after his death in 2006, the Heritage Lottery Fund made a grant of GBP4 million to help preserve it for the nation. This enjoyable and revealing book - the first biography of Christo - is also the story of Dixter from 1910 to 2006, a unique unbroken history of one English house and one English garden spanning a century. It was Christo's father, Nathaniel, who bought the medieval manor at Dixter and called in the fashionable Edwardian architect, Lutyens, to rebuild the house and lay out the garden. And it was his mother, Daisy, who made the first wild garden in the meadows there. Christo was born at Dixter in 1921. Apart from boarding school, war service and a period at horticultural college, he spent his whole life there, constantly re-planting and enriching the garden, while turning out landmark books and exhaustive journalism. Opinionated, argumentative and gloriously eccentric, he changed the face of English gardening through his passions for meadow gardening, dazzling colours and thorough husbandry. As the baby of a family of six - five boys and a girl - Christo was stifled by his adoring mother. Music-loving and sports-hating, he knew the Latin names of plants before he was eight. This fascinating book reveals what made Christo tick by examining his relationships with his generous but scheming mother, his like-minded friends (such as gardeners Anna Pavord and Beth Chatto) and his colleagues (including his head gardener, Fergus Garrett, a plantsman in Christo's own mould).
This book is a beautifully illustrated celebration of Stourhead, the estate in Wiltshire which features a Palladian mansion and a legendary Georgian landscape garden. The garden has a lake, temples, fountains, grottoes, bridges and monuments of all kinds. Stourhead is particularly famous for its autumn colour, which is rather like the British equivalent of New England. The head gardener Alan Power has been a fixture on Radio 4 every October since 2008, where he previews the coming season and judges listeners' autumn photographs. Alan Power will be contributing four essays to the book, including ones on the trees of Stourhead and autumn at the estate.
Throughout history great gardeners have risen from all walks of life. Some have been aristocratic amateur gardeners, others professional designers with an international practice. Some have come to garden-making from sister arts such as sculpture or painting; some have been hands-on nurserymen or botanists. What they all have in common, no matter where or when they were born, is the ability to take an idea and develop it in a new manner relevant to their times. The book contains four sections. `Gardens of Ideas' moves from the politically allusive gardens of 18th-century England made by men such as William Kent, to Charles Jencks's Scottish garden inspired by 21st-century cosmography. `Gardens of Straight Lines' explores the lives of the great formalist gardeners, from Le Notre at Versailles to the rational English minimalism of contemporary designer Christopher Bradley-Hole. `Gardens of Curves' begins with that great exponent of the English landscape garden, `Capability' Brown, and leads to the extraordinary Brazilian designer Roberto Burle Marx. Finally, `Gardens of Plantsmanship' moves from the father of naturalistic planting, William Robinson, to the sweeping prairies of New York's favourite Dutch designer, Piet Oudolf. With an outstanding text by the award-winning gardens writer Stephen Anderton, this book will appeal to garden lovers everywhere.