Picks and Pans Review: Private Landscapes

updated 06/04/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/04/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Caroline Seebohm and Christopher Simon Sykes

Anyone who dreams of cultivating velvet lawns awash with fragrant flowers and drooping willows without so much as picking up a trowel may be stirred into action with this inspiring journey through 19 special gardens. Writer Seebohm and photographer Sykes studied landscapes and interviewed designers in the U.S. and England with the aim of uncovering the secrets of creative construction. Each of these gardens has in common what landscape architects call good bones, a well-designed foundation. Not to mention a streak of obsessiveness. Painter Robert Dash, whose modest garden on Long Island has a mirrored woodshed, suggests walking naked to feel the climatic changes from spot to spot; while the most encouraging advice comes from Sir Roy Strong, former director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, who says of the formal garden he transformed from a field over fourteen years: "I don't see why anyone couldn't do something like this." (Potter, $40)

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