This lovely book is full of archival photos and historically rich documentation thoroughly detailing the development of Victorian garden style and artistry, chronicling the shift from structured gardens once exclusive to wealthy estate owners than later influencing the less ostentatious home garden in local towns and villages. The book follows the history of the Victorian garden from the original formal British structured layouts and includes fascinating information about a later development termed “wild gardening,” a more natural style in response to formal bedding systems. This book offers so much rich information that although my personal gardening taste is shifting away from formality and isn’t directly patterned with Victorian influences, I was still captivated by the history, and looking at the photos, I couldn’t help but compare many of the British garden estates to some of the grand homes and gardens I admire along Orange Grove Boulevard, in Pasadena, once called Millionaire’s Row. Many of the early 20th century landmark mansions that line Orange Grove, the starting route for the famed New Year’s Rose Parade, stand as examples of Victorian grandeur, with huge expanses of lawn, very formal gardens, exquisite topiary and garden ornamentation. Pasadena is often referred to as “Rose City,” particularly due to the historic Rose Parade, but roses, as you might guess, are hardly native to Southern California. So many of the grand estates included very large rose collections in an attempt to follow the fashion of Victorian England. Evidence of Victorian garden splendor is abundant in the San Gabriel Valley, despite water shortages and a gradual shift towards native plants and flowers Another avid rose collector, railroad magnate Henry Huntington, boasted a wealth of beautiful roses on his personal estate. I make frequent visits to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Garden as a study, and also to lap up the beauty and come home with a little bit of inspiration. Maybe I also enjoy the feeling of luxury and a by-gone era. The roses are a little sad this time of year, but the gardens are still blooming with soft autumn color.
- Victor Victorian: Garden Style Fit For A Queen (nittygrittydirtman.wordpress.com)