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Garden History:  Philosophy and Design

Garden History: Philosophy and Design
Tom Turner
London: Spon Press, 2005
SB451 .T87 2005

Why do we make gardens? What types of gardens have we made? How has the appearance of gardens been determined? Where have gardens been made?

Tom Turner, a well-known teacher and writer in landscape architecture and gardens, explores these questions and reviews the historic styles of garden design, tracing the development of gardens through 40 centuries. His account is based on 35 years of visiting gardens, investigating their histories, taking photographs, drawing plans and analysing styles.

Garden History: Philosophy and Design uses more than 400 colour photographs, 150 color plans and 30 style diagrams to present and explain the dvelopment of gardens between 2000 BC and 2000 AD. The story extends from Egypt and West Asia to Europe, the Americas and beyond. It includes developments in art, philosophy and the social use of outdoor space throughout the period. The origins of western garden design are found to lie in the Middle East and North Africa. Design ideas spread to Europe, and after c. 1800 AD, to the wider world. The development of garden design philosophy is traced to the work of Plato and Vitruvius and followed to the present day. In the nineteenth century it led to the inception of landscape architecture as a generator of city plans and public open space.

Each chapter is arranged in two parts. The first part, illustrated with colour photographs, deals with history and philosophy and outlines the ways in which social, geographical, philosophical and artistic designs have interacted to create gardens. The second part deals with styles and examples, beginning with a style diagram and a short account of the style's use and form. This is followed by key examples of the style, each with a specially drawn colour plan and a succinct explanation of the design philosophy. Some 85 key garden, landscape and urban designs are analysed this way, to demonstrate the principles underlying the use and beauty of outdoor space. The book concludes with observations from the author on what garden and landscape designers working today can draw from aspects of their art in the past four millennia.

Tom Turner's overview makes a large subject accessible to a wide range of readers, with particular emphasis on the philosophy of garden design and the resultant styles. Its unique approach makes it both the ideal concise introduction for the general reader and a structured analysis for the specialist, relating design styles to each other, to philosophical ideas and to the fine arts.

Quoted from dust jacket.