Gifts for the Adventurous

Landscapes As American History

From the time of the early American settlers when they were bringing dandelions to North America as ornamental plants (what were those people thinking?) we have intentionally and unintentionally changed the surrounding landscape.  

American Eden: From Monticello to Central Park to Our Backyards: What Our Gardens Tell Us About Who We Are

American Eden is a survey of some of the best examples in North America of people's attempts to change their landscape and local nature to a reflection of what they think it should be.

From Publishers Weekly:  From Jefferson's founding garden, Monticello, to Martha Stewart's Turkey Hill, American gardens have been revealing self-portraits that reflect their owners aspirations and anxieties, cultural legacies and passing fashions. In his far-ranging survey, designer and historian Graham unveils the aesthetic, political, psychological, and ethical dimensions of the American garden. This is a world in which hedges, lawns, parks, and cemeteries are revealing displays of national identity, class distinction, and political correctness. Our gardens are a pastiche of classical pastoral ideals, the 19th-century European grand tour, and the distinctly American tension between our democratic ideals and aristocratic pretensions. Graham is able to gently mock the fashions of history while astutely observing that we are still as vulnerable to gardening fads today. After more than 250 years, the American gardening tradition has bequeathed to us treasured public parks, suburban sprawl, Kentucky bluegrass lawns in the desert, and kitchen gardens at the White House. Graham's history is a fascinating and illuminating tour of this American landscape. Includes extensive notes and bibliography.