A coffee-ta­ble top­per that ex­plores the un­ex­pected gar­dens of Corfu and will leave you yearn­ing for your own is­land re­treat.

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Book Reviews - Re­viewer Stephanie Ma­hon is the ed­i­tor of Gar­den De­sign Jour­nal.

Read­ing Rachel Weav­ing’s book on Corfu gar­dens in a cold Bri­tish spring is a mar­vel­lously cruel ex­pe­ri­ence. The au­thor is a late con­vert to the is­land, but spends much of her time there now cre­at­ing her own Cor­fiot gar­den, and this book is her love let­ter to her adopted home. Her de­scrip­tions and Mar­i­anne Ma­jerus’s images trans­port you in­stantly to lush, rocky hill­sides bathed in Mediter­ranean sun­light, and a se­lec­tion of gar­dens, both old and re­cently cre­ated.

De­signer Mary Keen has long been in thrall to the magic of Corfu and ex­plains why in her suc­cinct pref­ace, be­fore Weav­ing pro­vides a brief in­tro­duc­tion to the gar­den her­itage and cul­ture of the is­land. There is also an ex­pla­na­tion of the lo­cal soil, to­pog­ra­phy and cli­mate.

The first set of gar­dens are of her­itage prop­er­ties, the his­toric coun­try es­tates and manor houses of once-wealthy fam­i­lies. Here the rus­tic off-red walls and ma­ture trees give a ro­man­tic air, but it is the views that steal the show.

The chap­ter on con­tem­po­rary gar­dens high­lights some of the re­cent su­per­stars of modern Mediter­ranean gar­den de­sign, in­clud­ing Alithea Johns, Jen­nifer Gay and Thomas Dox­i­adis – many of whom use lo­cal plants and nat­u­ral­is­tic ef­fects bor­rowed from the sur­round­ing land­scape to cre­ate sus­tain­able gar­dens.

Weav­ing fin­ishes with a look at the wider land­scapes and plants of the is­land, in­clud­ing in­for­ma­tion on the beau­ti­ful wild­flow­ers that colonise it each spring. The over­all ef­fect is that you de­velop a bad habit of reg­u­larly check­ing for flights on­line, in the hope that as soon as pos­si­ble you will find your­self sit­ting un­der one of the beau­ti­ful per­go­las she fea­tures, draped in bloom­ing wis­te­ria.

GAR­DENS OF CORFU by Rachel Weav­ing Pho­to­graphs by Mar­i­anne Ma­jerus Im­press Pub­lish­ing, £49.95 ISBN 978-1999782511

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