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The Education of a Gardener Paperback – 3 May 1994

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Paperback, 3 May 1994
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press; New edition edition (3 May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860460429
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860460425
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.2 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 462,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A book which could only have been written by a perceptive artist with wide experience, knowledge and a sense of beauty." (Sunday Times)

"He has written an astonishingly beautiful book about his craft" (Doris Lessing)

Book Description

A classic memoir by Russell Page, one of the 20th Century's most famous landscape gardeners, describing the author’s training and the development of his many celebrated gardens.

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Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on 7 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
First published in 1962, when Page was already a well established European designer. Reading this book is one of them rare occasions when a marvellous professional as Page was lets you in generously.
Page's accounts merge the personal with the professional, and encompass a wide spectrum indeed. It is, therefore, a book to read by the small bedroom lamp, as well as in the study room, while working.
It has by now become a legendary novel, a rare breed that set a precedent, although rarely followed. It is analogous to a good old-fashioned radio show - romantic, endearing and memorable. Russell Page (1906-1995).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very pleased with this book which arrived in good condition from the other side of the world, packaged extremely well. Thank you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a garden design student I am finding the ideas in this book very helpful!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The classic gardening book a must for all russell page fans
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 17 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the education of a gardener 10 Jun. 2008
By Patricia Crow - Published on
Format: Paperback
this book is a cultural treasure, but then i am a long-time admirer of russell page, his sensitivity to site and his knowledge as a plantsman. while he tried to make good garden design accessible to more people conceptually, aesthetically, and financially, there remain some recommendations that are clearly out of reach of the ordinary person. however, his approach can be adapted to any any size of garden and any budget. recommended for its beautiful prose alone, i will read this book again and again for its depth of understanding of all aspects of garden design.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Master 4 Feb. 2009
By Julia Kraft - Published on
Format: Paperback
Page gives the reader strategies for learning plant names, remembering designs so you can recall them later, and gives a lot of opinions that ring true to me about style. A classic book, well written, and unlike anything I've read in a long time. More than instructional, inspirational. Sure to be a favorite. A gem.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential 8 Dec. 2007
By K. Mulcahy - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There's been no better book written about the art of designing a beautiful landscape, IMO. While few of us can relate to mansions on the Riveria or expansive town gardens in Paris, the principles Mr. Page talks about are an accessible distillation of a lifetime of intense planting, looking and thinking. If nothing else, experiencing this rigorous and disciplined artist is an incredible inspiration.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A local landscape architect recommended this. 24 July 2014
By Newton Fawcett - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I went through a period when I read all the books having to do with Landscape gardening I could get my hands on. A local landscape architect recommended this one. It was the best, in the sense that I learned the most from it. Now I am ordering a copy to give to my young gardener, Zach, to read. It would be nice to have more photographs illustrating Page's work and its principles, but having the photos in black and white works fairly well, because Page's work was more about form, juxtaposition of masses, and composition than about color.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic book for landscape designers, but not a "how-to" for ordinary gardeners 24 Jan. 2014
By Beth in Iowa - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Education" is an autobiography of a life spent designing gardens, mostly in Europe and England. Russell Page (1906-1985) is today regarded as one of the great landscape designers of the 20th century. Born in England, he designed small gardens in Paris, formal gardens for French chateaux and great English houses, and cliffs-edge gardens on the Mediterranean. His clients included kings, duchesses and barons, captains of industry, museums and public gardens. The book is a fascinating historical glimpse into a rarefied world that most of us will never otherwise encounter, and it is written with the wit and command of the English language displayed by the men and women educated before WWII at British public schools.

However, it is not a book from which the average person, who likes to plant a few flowers and veg on his little plot, will learn about "how to garden." Rather, it is advice about how to design landscapes for other people.

A major detraction is that the book contains only a very limited number of small, black and white photos of gardens that Page designed. Gardening is largely a visual art, and it was difficult to picture the gardens that Page lengthily tried to describe. Art books need reproductions of the art, not just verbal descriptions of it.

Also, I found it pretty hard-going to slog through paragraphs listing numerous Latin names of species that don’t grow in colder zones and that I therefore have no familiarity with.

But the major impediment to the book’s usefulness to ordinary gardeners is Page's ascetic restraint in use of materials. His mission was to decide the main feeling of a place (the genius loci), and remove nearly everything else. This required a strictly limited palette of plants and other materials. Grass, trees, hedges and perhaps a large formal pool were his usual materials. Restraint was his mantra.

Flowers, if permitted at all, were limited to a few formal beds or pots, or relegated to a far corner behind walls if the property owner unreasonably insisted on having more flowers.

Of course, this is completely out of keeping with what most recreational gardeners want in their gardens today: flowers, vegetables and a variety of other beautiful plants, although we do want an overall design to best display them. Certainly some of Page's advice is applicable for a gardeners looking for design advice: Paths should indeed always lead somewhere; gardens should mainly be approached from the house; massing and repetition of plants does give a striking effect.

But I'm not certain that Page's strongly held and somewhat snobbish opinions regarding what was artistically appropriate from 1930 to 1960 in wealthy people's formal gardens necessarily apply to the modern concept of gardens made by small-scale owner-gardeners. Reading the book might stoke ordinary gardeners’ anxieties about the "tastefulness" of their gardens (some might condescendingly quip that this wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I don't agree that inhibiting people from enjoying their gardens is beneficial).

The book will obviously be most useful for landscape designers and probably should be required reading for those in training to be such. It’s an important primary document for garden historians and would also be of interest to students of architectural history.

Despite my reservations about the book, I'm glad I read it; I learn something from reading any autobiography. But I don't think that it will change how I garden or how I look at gardens, as this classic book seems to have done for many readers before me.

(For a more detailed review with photos, please visit my blog at gardenfancy.blogspot.)
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