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