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Hidden Gardens of Spain: Book Review

2011 Paperback Edition  :  Published by Frances Lincoln Ltd

Hidden Gardens of Spain by Eduardo Mencos

When I’m not galivanting about, I pursue armchair travel with an unwavering zeal. There’s much of Spain I’ve yet to see. Yet now, after spending evenings curled up in my favorite wing chair with a new paperback edition of Hidden Gardens of Spain, I’ve had the opportunity to accompany author Eduardo Mencos to each “little Eden” he visits, sharing each “enchanted moment” chronicled in alluring photographs and beautifully rendered descriptions.

Mencos moves from private estates in southern Galicia, to the highest city in Central Spain – Avila, to the sun-drenched south and Coastal environment, to the Canary Islands. In each garden vignette, a site’s unique character is revealed, its design influences, and stunning sense of place: Mencos shows readers the work of great designers such as Fernando Carruncho; landscapes that reflect an owner’s style resulting in what appears to be a moonscape; and the planted surroundings created by Heidi Gildemeister, known for her expertise in Mediterranean gardening.

Sharing the thoughts and inspirations of the owners, Mencos peppers his finely woven prose with the musings and observations of an insightful guide. His lively writing melds with the sumptuous photography to capture a garden’s essential elements, within the framework of an overview of location and historical details.

In lieu of a real-life tour with Mencos, I’ll return again and again to the book’s fascinating settings representing varied stylistic points of view:  Be it drawing on Spain’s Hispano-Arabic tradition; looking toward Italy or England; or contemporary spaces like the author’s home, representing a landscape where art, organic forms in an ordered layout, and nature rise up in harmony.

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