East Coast-Centric – this is a stylish guide to garden ornamentation. From rooftop terrace gardens overlooking Manhattan’s Central Park incorporating bas-relief fountains festooned with putti, designated to help filter noise – to philosophers’ busts arranged totem-style in old Philadelphia.
An overly exuberant South Beach garden is a carnival of color and kitsch, and some might say questionable taste. A large statue of Venus ala Bottacelli - Birth of Venus – is embellished with hand painted eyelashes. Similarly, the statue of Neptune’s trident has skewered a plastic lobster. Some of this garden’s whimsy works more successfully than others do.
South Beach aside, most entries are staid East Coast establishment estates that most likely shop for their trinkets at Barbara Israel. Symmetry is a requisite in the classic tradition, with enough of an occasional incongruity to keep the eye refreshed.
Those of us without architectural elements recovered from 18th Century castles outside Paris, can look and marvel at the beauty, collect a myriad of fresh ideas if we are creative faux artists, and enjoy the exceptional photography. This is now a discount book. I recommend it.