Regular readers will know that I recently completed a garden history course written and delivered by Toby Musgrave for My Garden School. When I was asked whether I would like to review his latest book: Paradise Gardens, Spiritual Inspiration and Earthly Expression I said yes very quickly, it sounded exactly the sort of book I would enjoy. I was not wrong.
It is full of illustrations, photographs and explanations. The descriptions of the photographs explain what you can see and what you cannot. Ancient long-gone gardens are the missing element that when considered, made me view ruined temples in a new light.
The book takes us from Ancient Egypt, to Crete and through to Renaissance Rome. We consider Eastern religions, which I enjoyed hugely. I have spent (brief) time in Thailand and loved visiting the different temple gardens. Reading these chapters reminded me of those visits and helped fill some gaps in my knowledge.
The journey takes us to paganism and to North American Native Americans. We are led backwards and forwards across the globe in space and time. We move from Ancient times to the 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' ceramic poppy installation at the Tower of London to commemorate the outbreak of World War One by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper in November 2014. It is an epic journey.
The book gives insight into how belief systems are writ large on our landscapes and for me this means I will be looking afresh at those landscapes. I can fully recommend this book.
The book is published by Frances Lincoln on September 3rd 2015.