Adventures in Eden: An Intimate Tour of the Private Gardens of Europe
by Carolyn Mullet
Timber Press, £30
The publicity material for this book by American landscape designer and garden tours leader Carolyn Mullet claims the 50 featured gardens are ‘Europe’s most beautiful gardens’. Whether they are or not doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that they are a glorious selection of gardens across a number of European countries, many of them the personal gardens of acclaimed garden designers and landscape architects including Peter Janke, Paolo Pejrone and Tom Stuart-Smith; some that will be familiar to Gardens Illustrated readers, some probably not. What links them is the fact that each has been thoughtfully designed, some to a plan, others created in a more organic way, and all of them labours of love.
The book is arranged by country, with the UK and Ireland providing the highest number of gardens at 21. The format for each entry is similar and includes the garden’s setting, how the garden was made, a lucid description of the main elements and how they interrelate, and the owner’s favourite time to be in the garden. These accounts reveal the Herculean work undertaken by some owners to improve or alter the blank canvas they start with. They also show, through the ravishing images taken by some of the garden world’s top photographers, how many owners in these contrasting settings and climates have gravitated towards naturalistic plantings.
Many of these gardens have been created on a huge scale, with planting densities running into the thousands, so it would be understandable to feel disheartened when trying to relate them to one’s own plot. But there are plenty of well-captioned close-ups of dreamy plant combinations to get excited about. Read this book with a notebook to hand as it’s likely you’ll want to create your own itinerary of stunning private gardens to visit, here and abroad, as you turn the pages.