Highly recommended for all levels of garden lovers and even those who don't know as much as they should about American gardens. The select group of gardens all have amazing stories about how they were rescued, sometimes from years of neglect and oblivion. One of the best is the newly restored Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers NY and one of the most astonishing are the tropical gardens on Alcatraz Island (featured on the jacket), once the home of some of the nation's most hardened criminals. The gardens are arranged chronologically from Middleton Place in Charleston SC to contemporary gardens from Maine to California. The text is engagingly written and the photographs by Curtice Taylor clearly bring the gardens to life. Most are open to the public, so plan a trip to see some of America's best historic gardens.
RESCUING EDEN: PRESERVING AMERICA'S HISTORIC GARDENS is not only a gorgeous coffee-table book, but also an inspiration for all those who are presently working to protect and conserve heritage gardens. The gardens featured are all "rescue gardens"--gardens that were nearly lost, but saved by public and private contributions and grants. A brief text that explains each garden's history accompanies the photographs of each garden.
I particularly love looking at photographs of "manicured" formal gardens, and this book contains a lot of them. Mainly I was interested in this book for its treatment of two local (San Francisco Bay Area) gardens--the Alcatraz gardens (shown on the cover), and the Filoli gardens--and the book did not disappoint. I especially liked the photographs of Lotusland with its amusing, whimsical topiaries, and the photographs of Middleton Place with its trees draped in Spanish moss that evoke the essence of the Old South.
Each garden is described in 6 or 8 pages of photographs and text. The featured gardens are as follows:
+++1740s-1890s: Middleton Place, Moffatt-Ladd House and Garden, William Paca House and Garden; Barnsley Gardens; Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site; Blithewold Gardens.
+++1900s-1930s: Florence Griswold Museum; Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens; Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory; The Fells; Untermyer Park and Gardens; Filoli; Greenwood Gardens; Historic Deepwood Estate and Gaiety Hollow; The Kampong; The Gardens of Alcatraz; Innisfree Garden; Anne Spencer Garden; Ladew Topiary Gardens.
+++1940s-1990s: Yew Dell Botanical Gardens; Lotusland; Garland Farm; Madoo Garden; Peckerwood Garden; Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden; Hollister House Garden; Montrose; Charles Richards Garden.
At the end, there is a list of "Gardens to Visit", with current contact information (name, address, web address).