Each chapter is blessed by high quality photographs of the various well-known gardens that the author has visited. His visitations were facilitated by the fact that the National Trust, the book's publisher, who commissioned the work, own many of them. We read about many of the nation's walled gardens, from famous tourist attractions such as Heligan, the lost gardens in Cornwall lovingly restored by Tim Schmidt, to less known ones, such as Blickling in Norfolk, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry the Eighth's mistress who became his queen and lost her head for her pains. Hudson wonders whether she would recognise the garden were her sad and wandering shade to return, but the archaeologist in him is aware that modern Blickling is the product of a later garden designer, so she probably would have difficulty.
We read of Chartwell in Kent, Winston Churchill's beloved garden, much of whose building work he did with his own hands. The amateur building work has been preserved in memory of the great man who was instrumental in saving civilisation from the Nazis.
The book traces the history of walled gardens from their earliest beginnings, though it focuses on British ones. The various ages of walled garden construction are analysed right from the beginning through the heyday of the walled garden in the eighteenth and nineteenth century through to their decline in the twentieth and subsequent re-emergence. Hudson provides a coherent analysis of the decline through an analysis of the social and economic history of the walled garden, which is written in his lucid style.
Another element in his work is his archaeologist's analysis of the construction and role of garden structures. We read interesting information on the erection of glasshouses and the identification of the age of the various walls. How to use clues to date and trace the development of a garden is a fascinating element in the book, which will repay return to the text and careful study. You will find this information in the section called Reading a Walled Garden. Therefore, in addition to its being a great book for leisure reading it is a useful resource for anyone studying walled gardens.