Spirit of the Garden: book review

Trisha Dixon has written an extraordinary book straight from her heart. Her beautiful descriptions and potent images – Trisha is a superb photographer − show a very strong connection with landscapes and the feelings they provoke: feelings that are undeniably unique in every situation. On every page of Spirit of the Garden are reflections from famous designers, gardeners, painters, poets and authors on what landscapes and gardens evoke for them.

Writing about gardening  takes us on a journey of imagination and adventure. Through the ages, literature has recorded how passionate humans feel about nature and the effect of being present within a garden or space. Trisha explores these works to explain her idea of the spirit of the garden.

The vast Australian landscape, our ancient land, is unique. As Bob Randall, Yankunytjatjara elder at Mutujula, Uluru stated, “We don’t own the land, the land owns us”. And Gordon Ford, Australian landscape designer reflects:

feel part of the land we walk and love the plants that grow there: if we are to achieve a spirit in the garden, the flora, fauna and landscape of a nation contribute to the identification of a national soul.

The prospect of creating a beautiful personal paradise gets us gardeners out the door and into the garden. As  poet John O’Donohue puts it:

Beauty calls us beyond ourselves and it encourages us to engage the dream that dwells in the soul.

The atmosphere, smell, sound and vision of a beautiful garden can draw us back time and time again. To connect spiritually with the landscape is a humble journey everyone can make.

Spirit of the Garden (published by the National Library of Australia) is a work of art and a beautiful reflection on a lifetime of passionate personal experiences, thoughts and memories. Trisha has given us wonderful insight into her world and her love for landscapes. This book embodies what it is to be truly Australian.

Lisa Tuck
Australian Garden History Society NEO
April 2021

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