The Armchair Garden Traveler

A quiet Charleston courtyard from our March 2008 visit.

A quiet cup of tea and a good book goes a long way to reviving your spirits and energy in the afternoon.  On Friday, I picked up Brian Coleman’s new book Intimate Gardens (Gibbs Smith, 2008), and was delighted to be transported back to Charleston and Savannah, where I led a tour at the end of March.  Brian sets the stage well for each chapter/garden in his book, and so I read about Savannah’s history and how the city was laid out in a regular grid system, before he described a lovely space in the historic district.  The two Charleston gardens reminded me of walking around the historic district with our landscape architect/guide — the houses are set on the lots with the short end to the street, and long porches face out into the shallow gardens.  We enjoyed the neatly clipped boxwood and wall fountains amidst houses that date back to the middle of the 18th century.  Being there, we said, was the closest we’d get to England this year that’s the feel of the place.  (Only local brew houses were lacking, according to our ale expert, a.k.a. my husband Leighton.)

            Brian’s book was photographed by Bill Wright, who also photographed Debra Prinzing’s newest book Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways (Clarkson Potter, 2008; read more at  Debra’s book takes you around the country, too, letting the reader peer into someone else’s back garden to see what the tool shed of yesterday has become.  I’m amazed at the creativity of these gardeners — not just in the construction of the sheds, but also in the shed’s placement in the garden and the variety of uses to which they are put!


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