Down the garden path
It's not quite a life list, of the sort that birders keep, but 1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die feeds the same sort of drive to go out and look. Its immediate effect on me: I really, really want to go to Kyoto. Even at just shy of a thousand pages, 1001 Gardens does not aim to be encyclopedic; general editor Rae Spencer-Jones marshals garden profiles by dozens of garden experts (horticulturalists, designers and writers among them) into a collection organized geographically, a benefit for readers plotting a grand garden tour. As you might expect, that team approach gives some eclectic results: How else a could a garden gnome reserve in the UK end up on the same must see list as Versailles? I'd argue that's part of the charm of 1001 Gardens, all the better for opening the book at a random page and following the path where it leads. Do note that the entries and appendices offer only the slimmest of details on the logistics of actually visiting the gardens so if you mean to travel beyond your armchair, consider the book an invitation to dig further, in a volume on a regional garden style, or in a travel guidebook. The same goes for the photos they're only glimpses, but as alluring as a peek through a gap in a garden wall.