'A World of Gardens' by John Dixon Hunt
A World of Gardens by John Dixon Hunt
Panel discussion and book launch
Books will be available for purchase at the event.
Reception to follow.
Hosted by the Department of Landscape Architecture and the Dean's Office, PennDesign.
Quote from the introduction:
'Gardening, after all, is one index of the history of men.'
Gardens of all sorts come in all sizes and guises. And our interest in them also takes many approaches. We study the process of their design, their built forms, their materials and plantings, their meanings, their use or how they are experienced on the ground and represented in word and image, their decay and maybe their recuperation. We are interested in who were their designers, who commissioned them, and the motives of both designers and patrons, along with the political and social contexts in which gardens came into being. But sometimes we also construct our own memories of these places.
A history of gardens is best undertaken as a cultural history, even if its primary focus is design, botany, hydraulics or sculpture. People engage in place-making because our choice of habitation is of supreme importance, as we find our identity and a sense of belonging in the process of colonizing and cultivation, which the word "culture" (derived from Latin colere) implies. It is not enough to look at gardens for their style (endlessly and emptily touted as "formal' or "informal", "baroque", "picturesque", "arts & crafts"), nor even enough to assess their visual appearance. We need to ask why they came into being, what advantages and pleasures (including the visual, to be sure) accrue from them, and how and why they have survived, changed or vanished.