Books & Literature

Book Review: Adelaide Hills Gardens, by Christine McCabe

GARDENING: The definitive book of the twenty best gardens of the Adelaide Hills.

A stunning display book and tribute to the evolution of the Adelaide Hills landscape in photos & words.

This stunning display book is a heavy tome that will sit proudly on any shelf. At almost 31x26cm, it’s a beautiful monument to the history and horticulture of the Adelaide Hills region, told through stories and photos across 20 prized properties.

The beauty of this book is not just in Christine McCabe’s loving words but from Simon Griffiths’ gorgeous photography. He offers a variety of close ups and panoramic landscapes comprising gardens and pathways, flora, buildings and people.

McCabe introduces the tome with a history of how the Adelaide Hills region blossomed from the days of early settlers into the well-known region it is today, filled with wineries, markets and the said private gardens of the book. She acknowledges there are many more that could have been included, as could have the stunning Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens.

Each property opens with a cover page and two pages of history, stories and context before beginning a multi-page gallery of Griffiths’ photos.

The prose reads like good fiction; McCabe’s text giving descriptive details that further add to the visual element of the book: “Reclining in the tree’s shade on a January afternoon, with plate-sized ‘Café au Lait’ dahlias…towering over one’s shoulders, bees buzzing in the nearby verbena, there’s a feeling of being cossetted in a soft, gauzy Arcadia.” (page 14). The photos themselves are also captioned.

From imported flora and encroaching farmlands, to bushfires, droughts and more, the Adelaide Hills landscape has endured and evolved. The memories of these hardships are captured in McCabe’s memories and research, but always with a sense of pride at the resilience of the land she loves so much.

The title of Adelaide Hills Gardens is a misnomer because it fails to do justice to the history and heart captured within the pages. It is truly a title to treasure, not just for Adelaidians.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Distributed by: Thames & Hudson Australia
Released: September 2020
RRP: $80 hardback

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