The Education of a Gardener Paperback – 3 May 1994
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"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)
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.See all Product Description
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
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).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.)
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Art, Architecture & Photography > Architecture > Planning
- Books > Art, Architecture & Photography > Architecture > Types of Architecture > Landscape
- Books > Biography > Artists, Architects & Photographers
- Books > Home & Garden > Gardening > Design & Planning
- Books > Home & Garden > Gardening > Landscape Gardening
- Books > Home & Garden > Interior Design & Decoration