The Art and Philosophy of the Garden
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The Art and Philosophy of the Garden

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Authors: David Fenner, Philosopher and Ethan Fenner, UC Botanical Garden Horticulturist

The Art and Philosophy of the Garden offers the first authoritative and comprehensive philosophical discussion of the aesthetics of gardens. Philosopher David Fenner and horticulturist Ethan Fenner address such questions as: what is a garden? Are some gardens works of art? What does it mean to appreciate gardens aesthetically? Given that gardens are always changing in a variety of ways, how is it possible to compare, evaluate, or find meaning in them? How can we interpret gardens? How do we value gardens and gardening? While grounded in Western thought, Fenner and Fenner bring to bear global ideas and examples of gardens and gardening techniques.

Inspired by a surge of philosophical interest in gardening, Fenner and Fenner argue that some gardens are indeed works of art. They explore how we might understand the aesthetic properties of gardens, and focus on what it means to "read" the formal aspects of gardens -- what the authors call "garden form" -- as a basis for interpreting a garden. They discuss the intersection of gardens/gardening and value: questions such as what sort of value gardens possess; whether and how ethics are relevant to gardens; how gardens may be evaluated and compared; and the value of the practice of gardening.

This comprehensive philosophical discussion on the aesthetics of gardens and gardening will not only interest those concerned with garden theory but will interest any thoughtful and intellectually curious gardener.