“My London Trilogy” post chronicled a once-in-a-lifetime trip on which I was privileged to be invited, “Gardens and Glorious England: A Celebration of Nancy Lancaster’s Legacy” with Charlotte Moss, a designer, author of 8 books and present day arbiter of taste whom I have long admired. Having an insight into Charlotte’s attention to details in the choreography of the trip put me in a state of high anticipation for reading her knockout new book, Garden Inspirations.
For it is trips like this that have provided Charlotte the opportunity to study gardens around the world and then to apply this lifelong knowledge in the ongoing “creation” of her East Hampton green sanctuary. At Ditchley, the former home of Nancy Lancaster and a two-night stop on our May trip, the pleached hornbeam alle’ provides just such inspiration.
Now looking out over my own garden, the first order of business is to pour myself a glass of champagne, toast Charlotte for making such glorious memories possible – and to explore every delicious page of Garden Inspirations. I urge you to do the same. Her book’s well expressed sentiments are a true reflection of her sensibilities, which helped make our trip so unforgettable.
“How small welcoming gestures in a guest room, flowers at the bedside and a single stem on the bathroom vanity are opportunities to express yourself and share your garden with people you care about.”
These bon mots are to be found on every page of her book, as much an education for the new gardener as they are confirmation for a seasoned gardener. For anyone who wishes to, or already does, appreciate gardens there is nothing that has missed her discerning eye. For a lifestyle aficionado, it’s almost like the “everything you always wanted to know but never thought you’d find in one place” book.
Garden Inspirations, at 289 pages, is a “body of work” and Charlotte’s favorite book to date. She makes the distinction early on that this is a book on gardens, not a gardening book, one that has been a few years in the making. Her skills with a camera (she photographed all 250 images in the book…not a small feat!) add immeasurably to the pleasures of turning the pages, as does her nuanced and sensitive text. Each page delights; drinking in the color, the design and the wealth of ideas it is easy to see how Charlotte’s passion for gardens has inspired all her creative endeavors, from decorating to collecting, dining and entertaining style. In fact, she starts from the premise that gardens and interiors have much in common.
There is not an inch of her Hamptons garden and grounds that have not had her very personal touch, benefited from her late night inspirations or early morn visits, inspiring chapter upon chapter that deserve many viewings to absorb. In “A Personal Arcadia,” it’s all things garden, which includes a gracious plenty of elements and ornaments, pots and planters, seating and water.
“Cultivating Beauty,” captures the gifts from the garden that are brought into her home to enhance an interiors aesthetic that is nothing short of impeccable. To also have included her flower arranging room (my special favorite in my own home) truly capped off this chapter for me, where page after page of containers (“The Pleasures of Collecting”) as well as the luscious arrangements that she created for them (“Florabundance”) are there to study and admire, and prompt note taking!
Nancy Lancaster, the inspiration for the England trip itinerary, was profiled beautifully in the poetically titled “Verdant Voices.” Ten well-selected female “influencers” who have defined the history of the garden are presented in artfully concise profiles with a sharp focus on their most significant bona fides. Notably, Charlotte’s piece on the incomparable Bunny Mellon represents the last interview Mrs. Mellon gave before she passed away.
Regarding her own start in gardening, Charlotte so humbly notes, “what I knew was that I didn’t know,” and thus began her very focused effort at research, education, study and a key point (one that certainly resonates with me), visiting and touring gardens. It’s a comforting lesson provided in “The Informing Spirit.” Whether you are planning your own trip, or merely happy to be an armchair traveler, what a joy it is to see a tastemaker’s selection of her sources for inspiration around the world, from La Pietra in Italy to Kuskova in Russia to Dumbarton Oaks in America.
To cap off this book too deliciously, in “Dining in the Country” Charlotte provides 37 pages of seductively styled and most inviting recipe and table settings…again, all from her own camera.
Perhaps the simplest way to summarize Garden Inspirations (which at its heart is six books in one) is that it provides a wealth of experiences for every reader; no matter your level of expertise or interests, you will be assured a take away that speaks to your soul, even if just a quote or saying that turns on a light and starts you down that “garden path.”
“The greatest luxury is beauty—seeing it, surrounding yourself with it, having the ability to create it, or simply enjoy it.”
There is also an added bonus in Garden Inspirations —5 “digimarc” enhanced pages that take you to original content created just for the book.
Many thanks to Rizzoli for providing me with a copy of ©Charlotte Moss: Garden Inspirations for review.
All photographs property of Rizzoli International Publications and Charlotte Moss.
©CHARLOTTE MOSS: GARDEN INSPIRATIONS
By Charlotte Moss
Rizzoli New York
Hardcover with jacket / 9.5” x 12” / 288 pages / 250 color photographs