University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial Publications : Book of the Month

The New Traditional Garden. Michael Weishan. Ballantine, 1999. 335pp, hardcover.

Probably one of the most complete references to come along on historic gardens and landscapes for the U.S., it is written by a well-qualified and well-known author. Designing and building historically accurate gardens for clients from his home-base in Massachusetts, these range from formal Victorian to cottage gardens, from whaling cottages to colonial taverns. He writes for magazines, publishes one on Traditional. Gardening, and is often heard on National Public Radio.

Beginning with the history of the American garden, each chapter begins in colonial times, and takes us up to the present. The next chapter on Unity is an example, beginning with the concept in Colonial times and the lack of unity today between home and garden and how to correct it. Other chapters deal with order and balance, or symmetry; cohesion; details, why they are key to historically accurate gardens and what details make what gardens; practicality; beauty; and productivity. The latter for instance treats food crops and fruits in the garden, both in historic times, and how they can be used today.

Quite useful is one of the more extensive to date compedia of over 2,000 period plants, year of introduction to help place them in period gardens, and hardiness zone. Then there is a list of sources for such plants, and historic gardens to visit.

This book not only provides the historical background as other such books do, but blends it well with current needs and desires in the garden, and how to combine the two. As the dustcover well puts it, "Respectful of the past and mindful of contemporary needs and lifestyles, Weishan lays down the underlying principles for creating-- either from scratch or from the ghost of a lost garden-- a domestic landscape with purpose and personality."

Where am I?  Perry's Perennial Pages | Publications | Book of the Month