THE VENETIAN CITY GARDEN: Place, Typology, and Perception

by John Dixon Hunt

Publisher:  Birkhauser GmBH 2009)
ISBN 978-3764389437

Hardback
£54

When I saw this book reviewed in the 2010 Summer issue of the ‘Garden History’ Journal I immediately wanted to get my hands on it.  Having already owned and enjoyed three of Hunt’s earlier works, The Picturesque Garden in Europe (2003), The Genius of Place:  The English Landscape Garden 1620-1820, Ed. (1975), and Garden and Grove:  The Italian Renaissance Garden in the English Imagination 1600-1750 (1996) together with the ever magical pull of ‘Venice’ in the title, I thought I knew what to expect as scholarly in style and readably lively in manner.

The Venetian City Garden, however, is primarily addressed to present city and garden planners, among whom is the Venetian reviewer, Renzo Dubbini. The book is organised in three main sections: the history of the city and its spaces from the beginning of the 15th century, a gazetteer or case history of old gardens (but sadly for students no map or plan of the eight districts is included), and thirdly, descriptions and illustrations of different categories of gardens in the city’s past, together with a repertoire of old and new, and suggestions for future development.

This is primarily a treatise on how to restore old ruined gardens and/or vacant spaces, and to design them for the right kind of use to avoid their destruction or disappearance.  Ultimately The Venetian City Garden serves as an example of how planners of any urban space should approach the task. Even garden planners can pick up helpful hints.

Pam Dodds