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IN BRIEF

Fiction

May 12, 1991|Sonja Bolle

EMINENT GARDENERS: Some People of Influence and Their Gardens, 1880-1980 by Jane Brown (Viking: $22.95; 183 pp.). "Brilliance in gardening is the most intangible aspect of an ephemeral art," writes Jane Brown, whose book intends to preserve as inspiration to other gardeners the genius of such legends as the Lords Fairhaven, Huttleston and Henry, fraternal creators of, respectively, grand and exquisite English gardens. Brown's fine miniature portraits bring alive true passions ("The following year (John Singer) Sargent sent Lucia Millet lily bulbs so that she could bring them on in pots ready for the painting season") and sorrows, like an aficionado's chagrin at finding himself unable to appreciate a widely praised garden (no insincere admiration in this group!). And like a true connoisseur of any art, Brown takes time to lament that the beautiful Norah Lindsay (above) "really had too much social life" to properly document her stunning designs: the lost wax method, lost all over again.

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