Foreign Trends in American Gardens addresses the influence of foreign, designed landscapes on the development of their American counterparts. Including essays from an array of significant scholars in landscape studies, this collection examines topics ranging from the importation of Western and Eastern styles of design and theoretical literature to the adaptation of specific plant types. As the variety of topics and influences discussed demonstrates, the essence of American gardens defies simple definition.
Examining the translation, imitation, adaptation, and naturalization of stylistic trends and horticultural specimens into American gardens, the book also dwells on the juxtaposition of the foreign and the native. The volume’s contributors consider the experiences both of immigrants, who contributed through their writing, planting, and design efforts to enhance the character of regional gardens, and of Americans, who traveled abroad and brought back with them a passion for naturalizing exotics for scientific as well as aesthetic reasons. The complexity of American gardens—their combination of the historic and the modern, and of foreign cultures and local values—is also their most distinctive characteristic.
Despite the various sources of inspiration or influence on the American cultural landscape, what has been fashioned here is no longer ‘Italian,’ ‘English,’ ‘German,’ or ‘Japanese,’ or any of the many precedents for what has transpired here. These essays, in their different voices and topics, elucidate this process, representing a rich gathering of recent thought on this phenomenon. For those who read these essays in their entirety, the American landscape will not be the same, but a livelier, more contentious, and layered domain.
Raffaella Fabiani Giannetto, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, is the author of Medici Gardens: From Making to Design.