Book Review: In and Out of Paris: Gardens of Secret Delight

For gardeners and lovers of gardens, this coffee table book is like a great big scrumptious hot fudge sundae. Or, if you want to switch the metaphor from food to sex, this book is garden porn at its absolute finest.

In and Out of Paris: Gardens of Secret Delight is mainly about private gardens and lesser known but notable public parks.

Sardar

For reasons that are not completely clear, there is also a section that includes some of the most famous Paris gardens. But who is complaining? A few more gorgeous pictures of Giverney and Versailles never hurt anyone. Plus I did learn from this section that I really do want to visit the Rodin Sculpture Garden, despite the likelihood that it is full of sculpture.

The author is Zahid Sardar, who writes on design, gardens, and architecture. Photographs are by Marion Brenner, and what magnificent photographs they are! In fact, In and Out of Paris is mostly photographs, and they are so glorious that one sometimes forgets that there’s text going along with them.

Sardar
Zahid Sardar

But I recommend that you do read the text, it contains a lot of fascinating nuggets.

Almost all the private gardens are located on terraces and rooftops, often terraces and rooftops with views of things like Sacre-Couer or the Eiffel Tower. The profusion of plant life stuffed into these spaces, in containers and raised beds, is astounding: roses and vines, fruit trees, shrubs, and grasses.

Marion Brenner. Photo from botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu.
Marion Brenner. Photo from botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu.

Public gardens covered include the Promenade Plantee, which came years before New York City’s High Line. There is also the eccentric Parc Monceau, a 20 acre plaything of a garden filled with grottoes, Corinthian columns, a Venetian bridge, and a miniature pyramid.

Full disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for free, and it is undoubtedly the best freebie I have yet received as a result of my blog. Keep’em coming!

42 Comments on “Book Review: In and Out of Paris: Gardens of Secret Delight

  1. I love your blog. You are a talented writer. Your voice really resonates with me. You’ve convinced me that I need to add this book to my growing garden design library! Keep blogging!

    • That’s very kind of you. Incidentally, I’d be happy to visit your blog, but the link you left doesn’t seem to be working (though perhaps you hadn’t meant to leave one).

  2. If you have the chance watch Monty Don French Gardens on You Tube, I think you’d love it. It too has a book that accompanied the tv series, but I haven’t seen it, but I do know he is a good writer and you can feel his enthusiasm for these wonderful gardens. It will give you some ideas for gardens to visit if you go to France again.

  3. We’ve visited Paris many times and have only strolled through some of the larger parks and gardens, this sounds an interesting book Jason for getting to the heart of Paris gardens and away from the major parks and I agree with Christina, Monty Don’s French Gardens is a wonderful insight.

  4. Oh – I wish I could afford to buy the book or go to Paris to see some gardens (and we only live 3 1/2 hours away by road!). Still – something to really look forward to if we ever manage a holiday. Thanks for reviewing Jason – you’ve got me dreaming of better to come!

  5. I love seeing gardens like the ones you’ve described. It sounds like a great (but probably expensive) book. Since I just paid $135.00 for Lichens of North America I’m still feeling some serious book buying guilt.

  6. Um you had me at the fact that many of the gardens were stuffed in small spaces!!! I have been feeling rather discouraged lately with our small plot and could benefit from some small space inspiration!! Thanks for passing it along! Nicole

    • I don’t remember your plot looking small from the photographs I’ve seen. The private gardens here are certainly much smaller, most of them anyways.

  7. Paris is one of my favourite places to visit and I have been lucky enough to get there several times. One of the things i love to do is search out the small hidden gems so this book will help me find new places for next time. After all the tragic news from Paris this year, it is good to read something positive to remind us all what a special City it is.

  8. How very delicious and tempting it sounds, I do love Paris, the nooks and crannies are always bursting with plant life.xxx

  9. Really nice you received this book for review. I have gotten requests to review books, but have not taken up the offer since I am a poor reader and reviewer. I certainly don’t mind the big, famous gardens in the book, so much to learn from them as a designer. When gardens are done professionally, they often are done so well. The small gardens there are nice too I bet.

  10. Ooo, I wish I got freebies like that! How great to see pictures of hidden gems that people don’t normally get to see.

  11. I’ve been wanting to go back to Paris for several years–this sounds like the next best thing!

  12. Based on your review, I clicked right on over to Amazon.com and bought a copy for $23 (woohoo). It just arrived today and I can hardly wait to saunter through it. Thanks for the review!

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