The book is a sumptuous exploration of 21 of the world's most celebrated royal gardens, from the formal splendour of Versailles to the organic, sustainable Highgrove.
In mainland Europe you can journey from the formal splendour of Het Loo in the Netherlands and Fontainebleau in France to the Baroque World Heritage Site of the Royal Palace of Caserta in Southern Italy. Further afield still lies the Taj Mahal in India and the Peterhof Palace in Russia.
Each featured garden will include the history, plantings and evolution of the garden as well as plant portraits of key plants and information about the design and layout of each. Countries included are: England, Scotland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, India, Bali and Japan.
This inspiring global selection of royal gardens is a perfect gift for any gardening enthusiast or armchair traveller and takes the reader on a journey of architecturally significant houses and their classic gardens as well as providing planting ideas that range from modest to grand, simple to ornate.
Lane, a host of the BBC television series Gardeners' World, conducts a "Grand Tour" of "some of the most iconic royal gardens" around the world in his tasteful if buttoned-up guide. Writing that these spaces, at their best, "leave a living legacy, a natural work of art, which adapts, morphs and reinvents itself," Lane chooses sites for their impact on garden design and history, as well as accessibility (all gardens included are open to the public). Highlights include the fountains of Versailles, picked to demonstrate the importance of water features in French gardens, and Austria's Sh nbrunn, with its 10,000 varieties of daffodils. Lane also explores the gardens surrounding India's Taj Mahal, designed to evoke "the four gardens of paradise mentioned in the Qur'an," and the U.K.'s Highgrove, which reveals its owner, Prince Charles, as a "devoted environmentalist." Lane's somewhat staid account, however, fails to provide a feeling of being on the ground or to viscerally evoke a garden's sights and sounds, though the beautiful color photographs compensate a little. This survey is akin to a comfortable guided bus tour: pleasant but otherwise unremarkable.