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Visiting gardens has never been more popular but not many of us understand what we are looking at when strolling through a beautiful garden - are we looking at an original landscaped site or a recreation? Is the planting matter authentic or made up of modern hybrids? Are the steps and terracing in the Italianate style or are they Arts and Crafts? The truth is that most gardens of any age are like a palimpsest: successive generations have changed and influenced the soft and hard fabric of the place over time. Inevitably many of the gardens we wander through today are an amalgam of changing fashions and circumstance. How to Read Gardens provides the reader with all the knowledge he or she needs to tease out the clues that will tell the complete story of a garden's past. From the grandest estate to the smallest suburban plot, this book will enliven and inform every visit.