Christine Ryan

Ernie and Marietta O'Byrne's garden in Eugene, Oregon, has been forty years in the making. Photograph by Marion Brenner.

When Outstanding American Gardens: A Celebration crossed our desk, we saw the book’s (second) subtitle, 25 Years of the Garden Conservancy, and thought, Oh, Connecticut lilacs and Virginia dogwoods. Then we opened it.

Of the 50 public and private properties that Page Dickey profiles in this volume, 14 are, in fact, in the West, including the stunner in the photo above. And here’s an even more important Western connection: Frank and Anne Cabot may have been Easterners, but it was visiting Ruth Bancroft in Walnut Creek, California—and hearing her worries about her collection’s future—that led Frank to found the nonprofit. “As we drove away, I said to my wife, ‘We have to find some way to help this woman.’ And she said, rather facetiously, ‘Why don’t you start a garden conservancy?’ ” The rest, thanks to them, is gardening history. $50; Stewart, Tabori & Chang.

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