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The Visitor's Guide to American Gardens:
Garden Walks, Garden Talks, Garden Events
by Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

If you like to visit amazing gardens when you travel, or even if you just like to dream about it, The Visitor's Guide to American Gardens: Garden Walks, Garden Talks, Garden Events is the reference you need. It features leading gardens in each state and some in Canada.

Some of the garden descriptions will have a photo. All will list the address, phone, website, hours and fee. There are also useful icons that tell you some details about the garden at a glance such as 'Is there a food service at the garden?', 'Is it accessible?', 'Is there a kid's section?', 'Is it on an historic site?' and so on. Useful stuff.

The problem with guides like this is that they can become out of date very fast as information about the gardens change. This book circumvents that problem by not only listing the website of the garden so you can confirm details before your trip but also by printing a QR code so you can scan the image with your smart phone or other device and be taken directly to the garden's website.

I tested the content by looking at the entries for the 2 gardens nearest home and that I have visited: The Cleveland Botanical Garden and Holden Arboretum. The Cleveland Botanical Garden earned a full page and a color photo while the Holden Arboretum split a page with a garden in Youngstown and didn't have a photo. The details were accurate, if not exceptional.

I would have liked to seen a listing for my favorite local garden, the unique Cleveland Cultural Gardens, but I guess no book can be 100% complete and please everybody.

I like the maps at the end of the book that show you approximately where the gardens are located so you can group a few together in your travels. The back section also includes some of the more popular garden shows in each region.

If you are planning a trip you can browse the book and see if there are any gardens near your destination. Or use it to plan real or imaginary visits to some beautiful gardens.

Reviewed by Dan Hanson

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