Highstone, John. "Victorian Gardens: How to Plan, Plant, and Enjoy Them." Harper & Row, San Francisco (1982)
A neighbor on Johnson Park lent this to me last autumn and only now have I gotten around to it. With the most recent snow over the weekend, it slowed down everyone's rush to spring so I'm finding myself in a bit of a stretched out space as I'm in the rhythm of a much more active time.
On reading garden books: I have churned through ten new books in the last few weeks. I've never been able to cover such broad textual territory before but my techniques are expanding. Here's some tricks. Garden books, although their form may be disguised, they almost always repeat themselves. With "Victorian Gardens," it opens with a ten page history of the key designers ("Capability" Brown - remember that one, you'll here it ten more times in your life) and a description of the style. The second chapter is 25 pages of detailed description of "design principles" of the era. The 6 or 7th chapter has some nice talk about garden construction and "trelliage" - and when I say "talk" I really mean "informative pictures." These 40 pages, which are 1/3 occupied by images, are the key to the book. The rest is repeated information you find in every garden book - plant lists, planting instructions, and garden care.
Once you become comfortable with this form, you recognize you can for the most part just look at the pictures for 2/3's of the book. This will allow you to read three times as many relevant garden books. Be efficient. :)
10 points to summarize the book:
1. Plant away from the home not on it.
2. "A Shrubbery"
4. Strolling paths
5. Lawn as designed ornament - not "filler" material.
7. Solariums. Orangery. Greenhouse.
9. A. J. Downing
10. Kitchen garden
Note: this list isn't really an accurate representation of the books efforts but more of a subjective listing of points that affected me - especially number 8.
Landscape designer and Proprietor of Buffalo Horticulture