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Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture

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Across the Open Field

Essays Drawn from English Landscapes

By Laurie Olin

"Twenty-eight years ago I went to England for a three-month visit and rest. What I found changed my life."

So begins this memoir by one of America's best-known landscape architects, Laurie Olin. Raised in a frontier town in Alaska, trained in Seattle and New York, Olin found himself dissatisfied with his job as an urban architect and accepted an invitation to England to take a respite from work. What he found, in abundance, was the serendipity of a human environment built over time to respond to the land's own character and to the people who lived and worked there. For Olin, the English countryside was a palimpsest of the most eloquent and moving sort, yet whose manifestation was of ordinary buildings meant to shelter their inhabitants and further their work.

With evocative language and exquisite line drawings, the author takes us back to his introduction to the scenes of English country towns, their ancient universities, meandering waterways, and dramatic cloudscapes racing in from the Atlantic. He limns the geologic histories found within the rock, the near-forgotten histories of place-names, and the recent histories of train lines and auto routes. Comparing the growth of building in the English countryside, Olin draws some sobering conclusions about our modern lifestyle and its increasing separation from the landscape.

As much a plea for saving the modern American landscape as it is a passionate exploration of what makes the English landscape so characteristically English, Across the Open Field is "an affectionate ramble through real places of lasting worth."

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Cultivated Power

Flowers, Culture, and Politics in the Reign of Louis XIV

By Elizabeth Hyde

Cultivated Power explores the collection, cultivation, and display of flowers in early modern France at the historical moment when flowering plants, many of which were becoming known in Europe for the first time, piqued the curiosity of European gardeners and botanists, merchants and ministers, dukes and kings. Elizabeth Hyde reveals how flowers became uniquely capable of revealing the curiosity, reason, and taste of those elite men who engaged in their cultivation. The cultural and increasingly political value of such qualities was not lost on royal panegyrists, who seized on the new meanings of flowers in celebrating the glory of Louis XIV. Using previously unexplored archival sources, Hyde recovers the extent of floral plantations in the gardens of Versailles and the sophisticated system of nurseries created to fulfill the demands of the king's gardeners. She further examines how the successful cultivation of those flowers made it possible for Louis XIV to demonstrate that his reign was a golden era surpassing even that of antiquity.

Cultivated Power expands our knowledge of flowers in European history beyond the Dutch tulip mania and restores our understanding of the importance of flowers in the French classical garden. The book also develops a fuller perspective on the roles of gender, rank, and material goods in the age of the baroque. Using flowers to analyze the movement of culture in early modern society, Cultivated Power ultimately highlights the influence of curious florists on the taste of the king and the extension of the cultural into the realm of the political.

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Essay on Gardens

A Chapter in the French Picturesque

By Claude-Henri Watelet. Edited and translated by Samuel Danon. Introduction by Joseph Disponzio

Published in 1774, Essay on Gardens is one of the earliest texts showing the progressive shift in French taste from the classical model of the gardens at Versailles to the picturesque or natural style of garden design in the late eighteenth century. In this formulation of his ideas concerning landscape, Claude-Henri Watelet describes an ideal farm and also his own very real garden, Moulin Joli, near Paris. He advances the theory that the useful and the pleasurable must be combined in the planning, preservation, and decoration of the land by offering a relatively novel design that uses experimental methods to create a comfortable estate. The result is a horticultural and ecological laboratory that includes a residence, a farm, stables, a dairy, an apiary, a mill, walks, vistas, flower beds, an area reserved for medicinal plants, decorative statues, a medical laboratory, and even a small infirmary for ailing members of the community.

Given the wide scholarly interest in the field of garden design and its history, this first English edition of Watelet's small but influential book will interest historians of landscape design as well as students of the history of architecture. Joseph Disponzio's informative introduction to Samuel Danon's masterful translation situates the Essay on Gardens within the framework of other landscape and garden treatises of the late eighteenth century.

Although the original text was not illustrated, this edition includes a selection of charming drawings and etchings of Moulin Joli by Watelet himself, Hubert Robert, and others.

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Flora's Empire

British Gardens in India

By Eugenia W. Herbert

Like their penchant for clubs, cricket, and hunting, the planting of English gardens by the British in India reflected an understandable need on the part of expatriates to replicate home as much as possible in an alien environment. In Flora's Empire, Eugenia W. Herbert argues that more than simple nostalgia or homesickness lay at the root of this "garden imperialism," however. Drawing on a wealth of period illustrations and personal accounts, many of them little known, she traces the significance of gardens in the long history of British relations with the subcontinent. To British eyes, she demonstrates, India was an untamed land that needed the visible stamp of civilization that gardens in their many guises could convey.

Colonial gardens changed over time, from the "garden houses" of eighteenth-century nabobs modeled on English country estates to the herbaceous borders, gravel walks, and well-trimmed lawns of Victorian civil servants. As the British extended their rule, they found that hill stations like Simla offered an ideal retreat from the unbearable heat of the plains and a place to coax English flowers into bloom. Furthermore, India was part of the global network of botanical exploration and collecting that gathered up the world's plants for transport to great imperial centers such as Kew. And it is through colonial gardens that one may track the evolution of imperial ideas of governance. Every Government House and Residency was carefully landscaped to reflect current ideals of an ordered society. At Independence in 1947 the British left behind a lasting legacy in their gardens, one still reflected in the design of parks and information technology campuses and in the horticultural practices of home gardeners who continue to send away to England for seeds.

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Gardens in the Modern Landscape

A Facsimile of the Revised 1948 Edition

By Christopher Tunnard. With a new foreword by John Dixon Hunt

Between 1937 and 1938, garden designer Christopher Tunnard published a series of articles in the British Architectural Review that rejected the prevailing English landscape style. Inspired by the principles of Modernist art and Japanese aesthetics, Tunnard called for a "new technique" in garden design that emphasized an integration of form and purpose. "The functional garden avoids the extremes both of the sentimental expressionism of the wild garden and the intellectual classicism of the 'formal' garden," he wrote; "it embodies rather a spirit of rationalism and through an aesthetic and practical ordering of its units provides a friendly and hospitable milieu for rest and recreation."

Tunnard's magazine pieces were republished in book form as Gardens in the Modern Landscape in 1938, and a revised second edition was issued a decade later. Taken together, these articles constituted a manifesto for the modern garden, its influence evident in the work of such figures as Lawrence Halprin, Philip Johnson, and Edward Larrabee Barnes.

Long out of print, the book is here reissued in a facsimile of the 1948 edition, accompanied by a contextualizing foreword by John Dixon Hunt. Gardens in the Modern Landscape heralded a sea change in the evolution of twentieth-century design, and it also anticipated questions of urban sprawl, historic preservation, and the dynamic between the natural and built environments. Available once more to students, practitioners, and connoisseurs, it stands as a historical document and an invitation to continued innovative thought about landscape architecture.

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The Gardens of Suzhou

By Ron Henderson

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Ideas of Chinese Gardens

Western Accounts, 1300-1860

Edited by Bianca Maria Rinaldi

Europeans may be said to have first encountered the Chinese garden in Marco Polo's narrative of his travels through the Mongol Empire and his years at the court of Kublai Khan. His account of a man-made lake abundant with fish, a verdant green hill lush with trees, raised walkways, and a plethora of beasts and birds took root in the European imagination as the description of a kind of Eden. Beginning in the sixteenth century, permanent interaction between Europe and China took form, and Jesuit missionaries and travelers recorded in letters and memoirs their admiration of Chinese gardens for their seeming naturalness. In the eighteenth century, European taste for chinoiserie reached its height, and informed observers of the Far East discovered that sophisticated and codified design principles lay behind the apparent simplicity of the Chinese garden. The widespread appreciation of the eighteenth century gave way to rejection in the nineteenth, a result of tensions over practical concerns such as trade imbalances and symbolized by the destruction of the imperial park of Yuanming yuan by a joint Anglo-French military expedition.

In Ideas of Chinese Gardens, Bianca Maria Rinaldi has gathered an unparalleled collection of westerners' accounts, many freshly translated and all expertly annotated, as well as images that would have accompanied the texts as they circulated in Europe. Representing a great diversity of materials and literary genres, Rinaldi's book includes more than thirty-five sources that span centuries, countries, languages, occupational biases, and political aims. By providing unmediated firsthand accounts of the testimony of these travelers and expatriates, Rinaldi illustrates how the Chinese garden was progressively lifted out of the realm of fantasy into something that could be compared with, and have an impact on, European traditions.

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La Villa

Bartolomeo Taegio. Edited and Translated by Thomas E. Beck

Published in 1559 and appearing here for the first time in English, La Villa is a rare source of Renaissance landscape theory. Written by Bartolomeo Taegio, a Milanese jurist and man of letters, after his banishment (possibly for murder, Thomas E. Beck speculates), the text takes the form of a dialogue between two gentlemen, one a proponent of the country, the other of the city. While it is not a gardening treatise, La Villa reflects an aesthetic appreciation of the land in the Renaissance, reveals the symbolic and metaphorical significance of sixteenth-century gardens for their owners, and articulates a specific philosophy about the interaction of nature and culture in the garden.

This edition of the original Italian text and Beck's English translation is augmented with notes in which Beck identifies numerous references to literary sources in La Villa and more than 280 people and places mentioned in the dialogue. The introduction illuminates Taegio's life and intellectual activity, his obligations to his sources, the cultural context, and the place of La Villa in Renaissance villa literature. It also demonstrates the enduring relevance of La Villa for architecture and landscape architecture. La Villa makes a valuable contribution to the body of literature about place-making, precisely because it treats the villa as an idea and not as a building type.

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The Monster in the Garden

The Grotesque and the Gigantic in Renaissance Landscape Design

By Luke Morgan

Monsters, grotesque creatures, and giants were frequently depicted in Italian Renaissance landscape design, yet they have rarely been studied. Their ubiquity indicates that gardens of the period conveyed darker, more disturbing themes than has been acknowledged.

In The Monster in the Garden, Luke Morgan argues that the monster is a key figure in Renaissance culture. Monsters were ciphers for contemporary anxieties about normative social life and identity. Drawing on sixteenth-century medical, legal, and scientific texts, as well as recent scholarship on monstrosity, abnormality, and difference in early modern Europe, he considers the garden within a broader framework of inquiry. Developing a new conceptual model of Renaissance landscape design, Morgan argues that the presence of monsters was not incidental but an essential feature of the experience of gardens.

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Of Gardens

Selected Essays

By Paula Deitz

Paula Deitz has delighted readers for more than thirty years with her vivid descriptions of both famous and hidden landscapes. Her writings allow readers to share in the experience of her extensive travels, from the waterways of Britain's Castle Howard to the Japanese gardens of Kyoto, and home again to New York City's Central Park. Collected for the first time, the essays in Of Gardens record her great adventure of continual discovery, not only of the artful beauty of individual gardens but also of the intellectual and historical threads that weave them into patterns of civilization, from the modest garden for family subsistence to major urban developments. Deitz's essays describe how people, over many centuries and in many lands, have expressed their originality by devoting themselves to cultivation and conservation.

During a visit to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor, Maine, Deitz first came to appreciate the notion that landscape architecture can be as intricately conceived as any major structure and is, indeed, the means by which we redeem the natural environment through design. Years later, as she wandered through the gardens of Versailles, she realized that because gardens give structure without confinement, they encourage a liberation of movement and thought. In Of Gardens, we follow Deitz down paths of revelation, viewing "A Bouquet of British Parks: Liverpool, Edinburgh, and London"; the parks and promenades of Jerusalem; the Moonlight Garden of the Taj Mahal; a Tuscan-style villa in southern California; and the rooftop garden at Tokyo's Mori Center, among many other sites.

Deitz covers individual landscape architects and designers, including André Le Nôtre, Frederick Law Olmsted, Beatrix Farrand, Russell Page, and Michael Van Valkenburgh. She then features an array of parks, public places, and gardens before turning her attention to the burgeoning business of flower shows. The volume concludes with a memorable poetic epilogue entitled "A Winter Garden of Yellow."

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