July 2022 MBR The Gardening Shelf

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Midwest Book Review

Aug 3, 2022, 1:23:35 AMAug 3
The Gardening Shelf

Borde Hill Garden: A Plant Hunter's Paradise
Vanessa Berridge, author
John Glover, photographer
Merrell Publishers
9781858946900, $70.00, HC, 208pp


Synopsis: Borde Hill Garden is set in historic parkland in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in West Sussex, England. The Elizabethan mansion was purchased in the 1890s by Colonel Stephenson Robert Clarke who set about creating the garden and woodland using plants from several continents brought back to England by the great plant hunters of the early 1900s. Well over a century and three generations later, Borde Hill remains in the ownership of the Stephenson Clarke family, and today is renowned for its collection of rare shrubs and trees.

"Borde Hill Garden: A Plant Hunter's Paradise" is structured in two main parts. For the first, 'The History', Vanessa Berridge has had exclusive access to the Borde Hill archive, which contains not only family photographs but also a wealth of written sources, such as letters between Stephie and nurserymen, directors of botanical gardens, other landowners, and plant hunters. Giving unique insight into the horticultural world and social history of the interwar years, this correspondence reveals acts of courage by such famed plant explorers as George Forrest and Ernest Wilson and the professional level of accomplishment of Stephie and his gardening acquaintances.

The second part of "Borde Hill Garden: A Plant Hunter's Paradise" takes the reader on an extended tour of the garden, illustrated by the glorious photography of John Glover. Borde Hill is laid out as a series of intimate outdoor 'rooms', including the Old Rhododendron Garden, the Rose Garden and the terraced Italian Garden. With its variety further encompassing wide lawns that flow out into the countryside, many plant species not found elsewhere in Britain and one of the country's largest collections of privately owned rare trees, it is no wonder that Borde Hill lays claim to offering visitors the world in one garden.

Concluding with information on Borde Hill's historic plants, its many RHS Awards of Merit and its 70 champion trees, this authoritative, engaging volume is a fitting celebration of one of Britain's great heritage gardens.

Critique: A beautifully and profusely illustrated coffee-table style (9.84 x 0.55 x 11.42 inches, 3.55 pounds) volume is a garden enthusiasts delight from cover to cover. Inherently fascinating, impressively informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Borde Hill Garden: A Plant Hunter's Paradise" is a welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Gardening/Horticulture collections, as well as Garden Design supplemental curriculum studies lists

Editorial Note #1: Vanessa Berridge is a gardens writer with an in-depth knowledge of British garden history. She is also the author of The Joy of Gardening (Summersdale, 2014), The Princess's Garden (Amberley Publishing, 2015), Great British Gardeners (Amberley Publishing, 2018), and Kiftsgate Court Gardens: Three Generations of Women Gardners (Merrell, 2019). She also contributed to The Gardens of England, published by Merrell in 2013. She was the launch editor of The English Garden magazine in 1997 and now writes about gardens, garden historian, and food for newspapers and periodicals.

Editorial Note #2: John Glover has been a garden and landscape photographer for more than 40 years. He has won numerous International Garden Photographer of the Year Awards.


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