A morning of lashing rain seems like a good opportunity to review a magnificent book, The Irish Garden, with text by Jane Powers and photography by her husband Jonathan Hession. Recently released by Frances Lincoln, who are to be congratulated on having the vision to publish it so generously, this is a well-produced, big (400 pages), heavy book with excellent reproduction. Nothing is cramped and text and photographs are well balanced. It is beautifully written and unusually accurate in nomenclature, and someone has done an outstanding job at proof-reading.
It's very evident that author and photographer between them spent a long time working on the book - you can't cover that many gardens in depth in a season or two and the images provide evidence of multiple visits to many. Remarkably it doesn't seem to be raining in any of them! 38 gardens are covered in detail, given several spreads, and numerous others are mentioned in the introductions to each of the 'chapters' - really loose groupings of gardens of similar style or period. The whole island of Ireland is covered, though there is perhaps more emphasis on the Republic. This will be a lasting record of current Irish horticulture and a high standard against which to compare any other review of a country's gardens. At 3 kg it practically needs its own Ryanair luggage allowance, but although hardly a handy guidebook, it will be essential reading for anyone researching Irish gardens or planning a horticultural tour there for years to come.
|A garden to visit: Glenveagh, Co Donegal, where much planting was done by James Russell (founder of the Yorkshire Arboretum) 'He had apparently wild ideas which proved to be excellent'|
|One of the spreads featuring Carl Wright's Caher Bridge garden, a gem inserted among the rocks of the Burren.|
|A full spread showing June Blake's Garden - the images do full justice to their subjects.|