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The Education of a Gardener

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Russell Page, one of the legendary gardeners and landscapers of the twentieth century, designed gardens great and small for clients throughout the world. His memoirs, born of a lifetime of sketching, designing, and working on site, are a mixture of engaging personal reminiscence, keen critical intelligence, and practical know-how. They are not only essential reading for Russell Page, one of the legendary gardeners and landscapers of the twentieth century, designed gardens great and small for clients throughout the world. His memoirs, born of a lifetime of sketching, designing, and working on site, are a mixture of engaging personal reminiscence, keen critical intelligence, and practical know-how. They are not only essential reading for today’s gardeners, but a master’s compelling reflection on the deep sources and informing principles of his art.  The Education of a Gardener offers charming, sometimes pointed anecdotes about patrons, colleagues, and, of course, gardens, together with lucid advice for the gardener. Page discusses how to plan a garden that draws on the energies of the surrounding landscape, determine which plants will do best in which setting, plant for the seasons, handle color, and combine trees, shrubs, and water features to rich and enduring effect. To read The Education of a Gardener is to wander happily through a variety of gardens in the company of a wise, witty, and knowledgeable friend. It will provide pleasure and insight not only to the dedicated gardener, but to anyone with an interest in abiding questions of design and aesthetics, or who simply enjoys an unusually well-written and thoughtful book.


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Russell Page, one of the legendary gardeners and landscapers of the twentieth century, designed gardens great and small for clients throughout the world. His memoirs, born of a lifetime of sketching, designing, and working on site, are a mixture of engaging personal reminiscence, keen critical intelligence, and practical know-how. They are not only essential reading for Russell Page, one of the legendary gardeners and landscapers of the twentieth century, designed gardens great and small for clients throughout the world. His memoirs, born of a lifetime of sketching, designing, and working on site, are a mixture of engaging personal reminiscence, keen critical intelligence, and practical know-how. They are not only essential reading for today’s gardeners, but a master’s compelling reflection on the deep sources and informing principles of his art.  The Education of a Gardener offers charming, sometimes pointed anecdotes about patrons, colleagues, and, of course, gardens, together with lucid advice for the gardener. Page discusses how to plan a garden that draws on the energies of the surrounding landscape, determine which plants will do best in which setting, plant for the seasons, handle color, and combine trees, shrubs, and water features to rich and enduring effect. To read The Education of a Gardener is to wander happily through a variety of gardens in the company of a wise, witty, and knowledgeable friend. It will provide pleasure and insight not only to the dedicated gardener, but to anyone with an interest in abiding questions of design and aesthetics, or who simply enjoys an unusually well-written and thoughtful book.

30 review for The Education of a Gardener

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    One of my favorite gardening books of all time. This is the book that inspired me to think carefully before putting a plant into the ground. How will that plant relate to the garden as a whole, to the plants around it, could it be used to greater effect in some other location? Mr. Page was always thinking in terms of structure, vistas, coloration, seasonality and mood. While I'm more of a fair weather gardener, the wisdom contained in this book has proven invaluable, and I'm a better fair One of my favorite gardening books of all time. This is the book that inspired me to think carefully before putting a plant into the ground. How will that plant relate to the garden as a whole, to the plants around it, could it be used to greater effect in some other location? Mr. Page was always thinking in terms of structure, vistas, coloration, seasonality and mood. While I'm more of a fair weather gardener, the wisdom contained in this book has proven invaluable, and I'm a better fair weather gardener for having read it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Russell Page was one of the premier landscape architects and designers of the 20th century, and created gardens throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As my family has some history in this area of concern, including our own English gardener, I grew up knowing of Mr. Page and his unique style, and had the privilege of visiting some of the exquisite gardens he created. Perhaps it's this shared history or knowledge that made the book so profoundly appealing to me. For someone Russell Page was one of the premier landscape architects and designers of the 20th century, and created gardens throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As my family has some history in this area of concern, including our own English gardener, I grew up knowing of Mr. Page and his unique style, and had the privilege of visiting some of the exquisite gardens he created. Perhaps it's this shared history or knowledge that made the book so profoundly appealing to me. For someone who does not know plants by their Latin names, this book may be a bit of a muddle trying to picture what he means when he talks of drifts of this interspersed with islands of that. As I have the almost-useless party trick of recalling the horticultural lexicon safely stored away from earliest youth, I was able to picture the gardens in beautiful technicolor, imagining the progression of bloom and scent just as he described. The book has runs of pictures, all in black and white, but as the gardens were created before color film was common, these are likely the only pictures extant of his creations at their finest. Page was an artist of the first order. He painted with trees, flowers, shrubs, and hardscape, but he created art as surely as any of the great masters. He wrote as beautifully as he planted; the final chapter in the book acknowledges that he ought to have called the book "Other People's Gardens" had the name not already been taken, and he proceeds to reward the reader with the most lovely creation of all as he poetically imagines a personal garden which his peregrinations had never allowed him to have. One finishes the book hoping that he had the opportunity to create the garden of his dreams.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Norman

    This was the first gardening book I ever bought. A serious look into the mind of a master plantsman. All that said, if you are not a serious plant dork with a serious interest in plant vernacular -- and I don't mean botanical Latin because that is a given with any Brit -- I mean if you are not seriously interested in getting your species to speak the language of your locale and climate, then this book is going to put you to sleep. This is why I keep it on my bedside table. I am a serious This was the first gardening book I ever bought. A serious look into the mind of a master plantsman. All that said, if you are not a serious plant dork with a serious interest in plant vernacular -- and I don't mean botanical Latin because that is a given with any Brit -- I mean if you are not seriously interested in getting your species to speak the language of your locale and climate, then this book is going to put you to sleep. This is why I keep it on my bedside table. I am a serious gardener, the plant advice in here is along the lines of the Magna Carta -- the basis for so much we continue to do despite cosmic change, but still. It will lull me to sleep as I ponder what to with that spot that................. Follow up with Visions of Paradise. The photos are in color.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrew McClarnon

    This has been my companion for reading out on the patio during what has been a lovely few months of warm, light evenings, while behind me my own garden has slowly wilted in the absence of rain. It's a rich combination of biography, some memorable projects, and general principles. Some of the stories had me scrambling through Google maps to try and pick out the places he talks about, or had me looking at old film from the Festival of Britain. In that way its been an inspiring read. I must admit to This has been my companion for reading out on the patio during what has been a lovely few months of warm, light evenings, while behind me my own garden has slowly wilted in the absence of rain. It's a rich combination of biography, some memorable projects, and general principles. Some of the stories had me scrambling through Google maps to try and pick out the places he talks about, or had me looking at old film from the Festival of Britain. In that way its been an inspiring read. I must admit to skipping some sections, there's only so much Rhododendron I can cope with. RP seems to have been one of those gardeners whose work seems to be 'obvious' - in that it makes such clear sense, why would it be otherwise. I am sure some 'Before' and 'After' photos would have helped show just how his services were so highly appreciated.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Petrea

    I don't expect that everyone will love this book as much as I did--it happens to be a subject that I enjoy a lot, but would probably rank with what my husband calls "boring books". I read it with my Sunset Western Garden book nearby so I could look up all the plants--he's comfortable with Latin names, I don't know them as well. Of course, since his gardens were mostly in Europe and England the choices of plants were often not possible here--still I loved the principles he laid out for planning I don't expect that everyone will love this book as much as I did--it happens to be a subject that I enjoy a lot, but would probably rank with what my husband calls "boring books". I read it with my Sunset Western Garden book nearby so I could look up all the plants--he's comfortable with Latin names, I don't know them as well. Of course, since his gardens were mostly in Europe and England the choices of plants were often not possible here--still I loved the principles he laid out for planning and designing gardens. His projects tended to be much larger than I will ever do, but the same lessons apply. It was interesting to read about making large displays for flower shows and festivals--quite different from planting a garden and then letting it mature. I really enjoyed the final chapter in which he thought about what kind of garden he would like to plant for himself, if he had one. I have seen one garden that he designed--the Pepsico garden in New York--now I would look at it with even more appreciation!

  6. 5 out of 5

    medi

    Oh, Russ. The man knows what he likes. "I like gardens with good bones and an affirmed underlying structure; I like well-made and well-marked paths, well-built walls, well-defined changes in level. I like pools and canals, paved sitting places and a good garden house in which to picnic or take a nap. I like brickwork and ashlar and coursed drywalling, a well-timbered bridge, well-designed wooden gates, simple wrought iron balustrading or a wooden grille through which to peer. I like bands of Oh, Russ. The man knows what he likes. "I like gardens with good bones and an affirmed underlying structure; I like well-made and well-marked paths, well-built walls, well-defined changes in level. I like pools and canals, paved sitting places and a good garden house in which to picnic or take a nap. I like brickwork and ashlar and coursed drywalling, a well-timbered bridge, well-designed wooden gates, simple wrought iron balustrading or a wooden grille through which to peer. I like bands of round cobblestones quartering a gravelled space, a courtyard of granite setts, painted shutters, well-made wooden doors, trelliswork of good proportion and, rarest of all these, good garden furniture, seats and benches in wood and metal, tables of stone or slate, simple lanterns and effective scrapers." So there!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sharen

    The best way to appreciate Russell Page is in his own words: "To have "green" fingers or a "green" thumb is an old expression which describs the art of communicating the subtle energies of love to prosper a living plant." (p. 16) When it comes to prose his touch is not as light, so I found myself digging in clay and quite tired by the end of a chapter. Written in 1962.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I wrote this one on my arm (so I wouldn't forget). I felt that it applied to making films, not just garden designespecially since it turns out that garden design (like film) must take into account space, time, composition, scale... "...I have to see that each added detail takes its correct place and weight, that it is a contribution and not a distraction." I wrote this one on my arm (so I wouldn't forget). I felt that it applied to making films, not just garden design—especially since it turns out that garden design (like film) must take into account space, time, composition, scale... "...I have to see that each added detail takes its correct place and weight, that it is a contribution and not a distraction."

  9. 4 out of 5

    The Master

    Part One was more instructive in terms of thinking about a garden, analyzing what is at hand, envisioning the design and achieving the desired result. The rest of the book was more "memory lane" as the author recounted gardens he had seen or worked on.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    This is a classic of garden design. I really enjoyed parts of it, but much of it is really tough going. Most of the book is devoted to classic European design, but a few parts have some relevance to the rest of us.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jana

    So far...He is a designer, an artist, and the world is his canvas. Growing things are his palette. His wisdom stretches far beyond gardening and even design...I'm finding all kinds of life-truths here.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Drufovka

    *love* More a reference than a narrative, I pick it up and re-read parts of it again and again through the years for inspiration. A good companion is The Gardens of Russell Page by Marina Schinz & Gabrielle van Zuylen, a coffee table book of photographs of his gardens that survive.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen Tripson

    He was a wonderful writer. I learned a lot about the history of garden design and horticulture as well as got ideas for my own tiny urban plot.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Walter

    Robin Lane Fox giving the forward sounds grand. His FT column is always a solid read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Gardening for the Rich and Famous--lots of photos of huge water features on the palace grounds. Actually quite dull.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marie

  18. 4 out of 5

    Boyd

  19. 4 out of 5

    null

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rho

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael Berdan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Addison Hart

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ahern

  27. 5 out of 5

    DaShan Williams

  28. 4 out of 5

    Prubo

  29. 5 out of 5

    Edwina

  30. 5 out of 5

    catherine

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