A silkscreen poster of the Illinois WPA Art Project (ca. 1936 – 1941), via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
On my nightstand for January reading:
Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City by Dan Pearson. His city garden is the best example of what I want for our Washington, D.C., garden when we return.
Illustrated History of Landscape Design by Elizabeth Boults and Chip Sullivan
The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meaning Through History by Spiro Kostof
Color by Design: Planting the Contemporary Garden by Nori and Sandra Pope
The New Perennial Garden by Noël Kingsbury
– none particularly new, but indications of my current interests.
I just finished re-reading Peter Martin’s The Pleasure Gardens of Virginia: From Jamestown to Jefferson. I recommend it — along with Barbara Wells Sarudy’s Gardens and Gardening in the Chesapeake, 1700 – 1805 – if you garden in the U.S. mid-Atlantic. Martin is particularly good on Mount Vernon and Monticello and on Jefferson’s changing enthusiasms and false starts. (Martin and Sarudy differ somewhat on the extent of the influence of the English landscape garden style in 18th century America.)
(I also love Fergus M. Bordewich’s Washington: The Making of the American Capital for landscape/city planning history.)
Right now I’m really taken with the Game of Thrones books (I know, I’m behind the trend; I’m in Rwanda.) I’m thinking of making the jump to an e-reader this month and then loading on the second book (aka Season Two) to watch in February. I also want Hillary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies soon (I had to re-read Wolf Hall last month first — it’s so good).
What are your plans for winter reading?
Today’s (rather long) quote
With a transatlantic perspective, Horace Walpole struck a prophetic note in 1775 just before the outbreak of war. He imagined a declaration of gardening independance when he predicted that “some American will . . . revive the true taste in gardening. . . . I love to skip into futurity and imagine what will be done on the giant scale of a new hemisphere.” Walpole did not base his statement on any knowledge of American gardens. He simply lamented what he perceived to be the incipient stage of a reaction against the idealizing landscape gardening of Capability Brown in favor of an affected variety and intricacy that he thought characterized the picturesque school. The rising interest in horticulture and uses of gardens as places to display flowers and flowering shrubs struck him, even in a manmade landscape, as out of tune with the sublimity of open landscape. For him, the best seemed over by 1770. Perhaps there was hope for a revival in America, where huge expanse of unspoiled and panoramic landscape offered endless opportunities to invoke “ideal beauty,” with its natural harmony and continuity. . . . The American landscape garden, however, never realized that vision.
In America, as in England, the direction in the new [19th] century was toward the picturesque display of plants in gardens, a development promoted by the proliferation of nurseries and seed houses all over the East and by plant-hunting expeditions to all parts of the world.”
– Peter Martin, The Pleasure Gardens of Virginia (see above)