Green frontier

Windcliff, Seattle, Washington: two of the garden’s key plants play a major role in this scene: red-flowered Lobelia tupa in the foreground and the pampas grass Cortaderia fulvida beyond it. Spiky Yucca rostrata contrasts with soft stipa behind.

Windcliff, Seattle, Washington: two of the garden’s key plants play a major role in this scene: red-flowered Lobelia tupa in the foreground and the pampas grass Cortaderia fulvida beyond it. Spiky Yucca rostrata contrasts with soft stipa behind.

Cornerstone Place, Sonoma, California: Claude Cormier’s Blue Tree, a dead Monterey pine covered in blue plastic balls, became the roadside signature of the new garden festival

Cornerstone Place, Sonoma, California: Claude Cormier’s Blue Tree, a dead Monterey pine covered in blue plastic balls, became the roadside signature of the new garden festival

Probably the biggest difference between American and European gardens is the notion of boun­daries, says Tim Richardson in his latest book, Great Gardens of America. In it, he brings together 25 gardens from across the States, a disparate collection that reflects the nation: vast, incon­grous and all-encompassing. Where European gardens are historically rooted in fencing out untended landscapes and providing well-manicured vistas facing buildings or ornaments such as fountains and sundials, their American counterparts look to harness the wilderness beyond, inviting it in. This, says Richardson, can be traced back to prairie land traditionally reaching right up to the front door; today, this has evolved into the archetypal American front lawn.

The breadth of climates that Richardson and photographer Andrea Jones have covered shows just how diverse this landscape is. There’s the terracotta earthiness of Baja Garden in Arizona, and the historically rich Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, where President Thomas Jefferson retreated in his twilight years, just as focused on tending his kitchen plot as he was on his state business.

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Great Gardens of America, by Tim Richardson with photography by Andrea Jones, is published by Frances Lincoln (£20, paperback)

Kykuit, Tarrytown, New York: glamour and opulence at the Swimming Pool Terrace, where many Rockefeller children learned to swim.

Kykuit, Tarrytown, New York: glamour and opulence at the Swimming Pool Terrace, where many Rockefeller children learned to swim.

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