An in­tro­duc­tion to the his­tory, phi­los­o­phy and im­mer­sive de­lights of the Is­lamic gar­den tra­di­tion from around the world.

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Book Reviews - Re­viewer Jodie Jones is a gar­den writer.

An­other tele­vi­sion se­ries, an­other book from the in­de­fati­ga­ble Monty Don. This time the na­tion’s favourite gar­dener has taken a tour of some of the most im­por­tant Is­lamic gar­dens around the world, from Iran to In­dia, Morocco, Spain, Turkey and then back home to Blighty.

He starts, at the be­gin­ning, with Pasar­gadae, on the great Plain of Murghab in mod­ern­day Iran. Two and a half thou­sand years ago this was the site of the palace of Cyrus the Great, but now lit­tle re­mains ex­cept a mon­u­men­tal stone pil­lar and a stone-lined chan­nel a kilo­me­tre in length, which is in the process of be­ing re­stored.

The book has been struc­tured to in­clude sev­eral pages of pho­to­graphs of each fea­tured gar­den, while Don is per­mit­ted just a sin­gle page of text in which to place it in con­text. He is a flu­ent word­smith, but by the time he has de­scribed his five-hour, pre-dawn drive across the desert and given us a few his­tor­i­cal data points, there is lit­tle space left to con­jure the at­mos­phere of this ex­tra­or­di­nary place. This prob­lem is ex­ac­er­bated by poor print re­pro­duc­tion on many of the il­lus­trated pages which do no jus­tice to Derry Moore’s art­fully con­sid­ered pho­to­graphs.

Nev­er­the­less, there are evoca­tive vignettes to be gleaned from this wide-rang­ing study – brightly painted pots lin­ing a bam­boo-screened walk­way in Le Jardin Ma­jorelle in Mar­rakech; soft-pink roses within the Car­pet Gar­den at High­grove; el­e­gant sari-clad women col­lect­ing flow­ers from chandi trees to make into gar­lands at the Am­ber Palace out­side Jaipur. Take this book as an in­tro­duc­tion to a vast sub­ject, and an in­duce­ment to be­gin your own pil­grim­age to the par­adise gar­dens of the world.

PAR­ADISE GAR­DENS by Monty Don and Derry Moore Two Roads, £35 ISBN 978-1473666481

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