Romans loved their gardens, whether they were the grand gardens of imperial country estates or the small private spaces tucked behind city houses. Gardens were treasured both as places for relaxation and as plots to grow ornamental plants, fruits, and vegetables. The soothing sound of fountains often added further to the pleasures of life in the garden. Romans constructed gardens in every corner of their empire, from Britain to North Africa and from Portugal to Asia Minor. Long after their empire collapsed, the gardens they had so carefully planted continued to exert influence in the far-flung corners of their former world.
The author discusses the many kinds of Roman gardens, from small vegetable and fruit plots to vast, carefully landscaped spaces filled with marble furniture, bronze and marble sculptures, mosaics, pools, and fountains—grand spaces suitable for the lavish entertainment of guests. Whether large or small, gardens were an extension of the interior living space of Roman houses. Often surrounded by covered walkways, gardens served as cooling refuges in hot climates.
This book describes the variety of Roman gardens throughout the empire, from the humblest to the most ornate, which include such renowned locations as Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli and the gardens of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The influence of Roman gardens is traced through Arabic, medieval, and Renaissance gardens to the present day. The text is accompanied by lavish illustrations, many commissioned especially for this book.
Patrick Bowe, a well-known Irish author and lecturer, has published extensively on gardens including Gardens and Plants of the Getty Villa (Getty Publications, 2011).