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Gardens of the Italian Lakes, by Steven Desmond and Marianne Majerus, Francis Lincoln, RRP£35
Pliny the Younger had two villas around the Italian Lakes, and a host of literati from Goethe to Shelley, Wharton to Joyce, Byron to Tom Wolfe loved the place — it is hardly surprising that books about the lakes appear on an industrial scale. This latest has glowing pictures and decent thumbnail histories of each garden. Nothing new but one of the most comprehensive treatments, including all the old favourites from Villa Carlotta to Villa Alpinia and Isola Bella.
Meadows: At Great Dixter and Beyond, by Christopher Lloyd and Fergus Garrett, Pimpernel Press, RRP£30
A guide to one of the most relaxed-looking garden styles — which is, annoyingly, one of the hardest to achieve without a lot of hard work and knowledge. A recent chat with the gardeners at Highgrove confirms this (they import seed-laden meadow hay from elsewhere and lay it on top of the meadow areas, for instance). Lloyd’s text is joined by the latest meadow thoughts from Fergus Garrett, who is now chief executive of the Great Dixter Charitable Trust.
Capability Brown and His Landscape Gardens, by Sarah Rutherford, National Trust, RRP£20
A plethora of Capability Brown books is being published for the tercentenary of Brown’s birth. Rutherford’s biography is a good start, with Jane Brown’s 2011 classic Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, 1716-1783: The Omnipotent Magician (Chatto) giving a more sophisticated overview.