Magazine article The Spectator

A Score of Blessed Plots

Magazine article The Spectator

A Score of Blessed Plots

Article excerpt

IRISH GARDENS

by Olda Fitzgerald

Conran Octopus, L30, pp. 224

I find it hard to read descriptions of gardens. No sooner do I come across `another winding path leads temptingly downwards' or `specimen trees lead you to the Rock Garden' than all concentration fades, my eyes and mind glaze over, and I can do no more than skim down the printed page, searching for interesting plant names. I am certain that I am not alone in this, but given this insuperable state of affairs, Olda Fitzgerald's book about Irish gardens is as good as it is possible to be.

It is pleasing and exciting to find a book about Irish treasures which does not mourn great losses or include sad photographs of beautiful but derelict places. On the contrary, this imaginative choice of 20 gardens, looked after by enlightened and wealthy patrons (Ireland has become a relatively rich country), illustrates that these are on the crest of a life-enhancing wave.

Stephen Robson's photographs are excellent. Attractive, serious and not at all quirky, they are mercifully free of any hint of the straw hats, old boots and close-ups of ducks, which all too often appear in garden photographs (there is one scarecrow, but it is minute), and there is a blessed absence of modern statues. …

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