The hills and valleys, the plantings, the buildings and the history of our great Park make it ‘a Park for Everyone’. So it is very appropriate that in covering all these aspects David Miller’s is ‘a Book for Everyone’.
The key to the unusual nature of the book is its sub-title, a ‘Souvenir and Guide’. As a souvenir it will appeal to people of all ages with its glorious range of photographs and artwork. As a guide book, it will take readers to most of the outstanding features in the Park. And if people are interested in the historical reasons why these features exist, they will find some very detailed descriptions and explanations.
It is essentially a very personal and unique book, not at all like a standard guide book you might find in any part of the country. David Miller is the perfectly qualified person to write and compile such a book. Much of it is written with personal experience of work done in recent years, especially the selection and planting of 200 new species of trees in the Arboretum and more in the Park. Then, in all matters where others are the experts, he uses their knowledge, whether contemporary or historical. It all stems from his life-long love of a Park where he was born in the Arboretum Lodge and where his late father was Head Gardener.
The uniqueness of the book is evident also in its lay-out and sequence. It begins perhaps surprisingly with 15 beautiful drawings by Duane Pugh, a varied range of subjects acting as a rich taster for anyone’s visit to the Park. Later in the book there are groups of superb photographs of birds and trees by Liz Cutting and, quite different, very striking scissor-cut silhouettes by Erika Bülow-Osborne. They all contribute to one’s awareness that this is indeed David Miller’s book but it is also a compendium of other people’s loving admiration of the Park.
I have learned a lot more about the Park, not least the reminder that in the referendum of rate-payers in 1892 we nearly lost the Park and Mansion altogether. But I still fail to spot the Ice House when I pass by.
I feel sure this sumptuous volume will be enjoyed by many people locally and, I hope, by many visitors from further away.