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Penelope Hobhouse is one of the most revered exponents of horticulture and international garden history. Her numerous books have provided inspiration to gardeners around the world. She has created gardens in Britain, France, Italy, Australia and the United States through her successful international practice. Between 1980 and 1993, she and her late husband restored and revived the Arts and Crafts garden at Tintinhull, a National Trust property in Somerset and, most recently, she has also been involved in the restoration of the Aberglasney Gardens in Wales. Award winning writer and garden historian Ambra Edwards is author of the National Trust's definitive history of English gardens, The Story of the English Garden. Her previous book, Head Gardeners, was voted Inspirational Book of the Year by the Garden Media Guild in 2017. Ambra has led tours to historic gardens in both the Uk and Europe, has been named Journalist of the Year by the Garden Media Guild three times, and her work appears regularly in the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and all the leading garden journals.
Beginning with the origins of gardens, this gloriously illustrated expedition through time and place begins in ancient Mesopotamia and explores the luscious gardens of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians. From here we move to Ancient Greece and Rome, to the beginnings of botany and Roman topiary. The coverage of the gardens of Islam is especially gratifying with the authors’ description of them as being “among the most sublime in the world - soothing, refreshing and deeply spiritual” borne out by the accompanying photography and images of ancient art, tiles, textiles and scripts. Later we enter the complex formalised gardens of 17th century France, celebrated as expressions of “French rationalism”, and then comes an unearthing of the founding of Kew Gardens, before we discover the history and charms of gardens of the Americas, China and Japan. Written by gardening history doyenne Penelope Hobhouse and celebrated writer Ambra Edwards, this is a dazzlingly informative labour of love.