Cover image for The gardens of Persia
The gardens of Persia
Hobhouse, Penelope.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
[San Diego] : Kales Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
192 pages : color illustrations, color map ; 29 cm
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Table of contents
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Material Type
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Item Holds
SB458.5 .H63 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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Gardens of Persia demonstrates world-renowned author Penelope Hobhouse's rare ability to combine meticulous research and a practical knowledge of gardens and plants with a love of garden history and travel. By telling the story of the development of gardens throughout the Persian culture's 5,000-year-old history, she imparts a passionate view of the Persian paradise garden as a model for today's gardeners.

Buildings, water, and plants combine to give the gardens of Persia a beautiful spiritual quality that has served to inspire garden design across time and diverse cultures. Indeed, Ms. Hobhouse begins with the oldest living garden, Pasargadae, created by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. It represented paradise on earth and spawned other gardens to be seen as settings for sacred contemplation and spiritual nourishment. In later centuries, these gardens evolved further around the world as representations for romance, power, prestige, and symbols of the afterlife.

Gardens of Persia is beautifully illustrated with Jerry Harpur's specially commissioned photographs of Persian gardens as well as with similarly inspired ones from around the world, and with lovely images of sumptuous carpets and Persian miniatures.

Author Notes

Jerry Harpur's award-winning photographs have been published in House & Garden, Architectural Digest, Gardens Illustrated, and a host of books.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This elegant book, with 150 color photographs and 50 drawings and diagrams, traces the evolution of Persian gardens from ancient times to the present. Famed British garden writer Hobhouse begins by describing the oldest existing garden, Pasargadae, created by Cyrus the Great in the sixth century B.C.E., which provided shade, vegetation, and a refuge. She tells how the ancient Persians built a network of underground aqueducts to bring water from the mountains to the villages and cities in what is\b now Iran. Hobhouse discusses the spiritual dimensions of these gardens and describes what she labels luxurious encampments, some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. Other chapters examine triumphant gardens and the gardens of rulers and merchants that were created in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.erry Harpur's resplendent photographs complement Hobhouse's minutely researched text. --George Cohen Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The basic design of the Persian garden can be traced back to the sixth century B.C. and was seminal to the development of Islamic, Indian and Western European styles. Noted garden writer, designer, historian and lecturer Hobhouse traces the evolution of the Persian garden and its impact, combining impressive scholarship with a gardener's practical insights. Her portrait of life in and around what is now Iran viewed through the prism of its gardens spans two and a half millennia and touches on virtually every major civilization. In this mostly arid region, gardening was synonymous with water. It was so important that Cyrus the Younger ranked the management of that resource one of "the noblest and most necessary pursuits." Hobhouse explores the interplay among architecture, trade, religion, warfare, government and horticulture with text that is meticulously researched but comfortably conversational. Numerous photographs, diagrams and reproductions illuminate her descriptions, and the time line of the Royal Houses of Persia, glossary of Persian terms, listing of Persian plants and exhaustive bibliography will be helpful for casual readers, garden designers and scholars alike. Curiously, despite Hobhouse's acute sense of the region's geography, the only two maps included are inadequate; a detailed topographic view of the area would have been welcome. Still, this is a dazzling look at the evolution of a beautiful and peaceful tradition. (Feb.) Forecast: An eight-city author tour (tied in with Hobhouse's keynote speeches at symposiums sponsored by Horticulture magazine) and an NPR segment on the book will energize sales. It should be a hit not only with gardeners but also with the Mideast-American community. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The Greeks called it Persia, land of exotic gardens, ornate patterned tiles, and dreamlike settings: a far cry from the image conjured up of present-day Iran. An acclaimed garden expert and author, Hobhouse traces the development of Persia's gardens in terms of an ancient culture and the spirituality that played so large a part in their design and use. Facing the difficulties of an arid land and fierce winds, the garden designers from Cyrus the Great (550 B.C.E.) to the present day have managed to create bits of an earthly paradise, with a sensitivity for architectural unity and personal tranquillity. The descriptions of the plants and the garden designs are meticulous, and the text is quite lyrical, well in keeping with the images in the illustrations. The book is a fine example of a scholar's ability to convey her own enthusiasm and knowledge, extensive research, and illuminating insights. Highly recommended for art, horticultural, and academic collections. The plants and water, brick, and ornament that are basic to the gardens and palaces of Persia are the framework of Porter's work and serve as the themes for three major sections of the book. Lush greenery and intricate fountains create a climate totally unlike the indigenous one, while the brick edifices utilize the native clay to create great heights of elegance. The intricate plasterwork, the marvelously rich tiles, and the endless variations of pattern and color found in the palaces and gardens serve to create a separate world, a statement of personal and aesthetic achievement. The photographs are elegant, but the text, unfortunately, is not. It tends to be turgid and difficult to follow, and one wonders if the translation is at fault or if Porter (Iranian studies, Aix-en-Provence) has lapsed into professorial obfuscation. Not a necessary purchase, but useful for large collections for its excellent illustrations.-Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.