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When the National Trust decided to take on the care of gardens, the aim was that these would be the very best of their kind in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust now has the finest collection of gardens ever assembled under one ownership - the greatest in number, diversity, historic importance and quality. Taken together they contain the world's most important collection of cultivated plants, distinguished for their beauty, rarity, historical interest and scientific value. First published in 1996, this new edition has been substantially revised to showcase superb new photography, and to introduce recently acquired properties such as Greenway in Devon and the gardens of houses such as Red House in Kent and Tyntesfield in Somerset. Stephen Lacey paints a vivid picture of individual Trust gardens through historical and horticultural perspectives. He gives his personal take, describing the present state of each and placing it firmly within the context of gardening history in Britain. All the major periods are represented: a knot garden from a 1640 design at Moseley Old Hall in Staffordshire; magnificent eighteenth-century landscapes such as 'Capability' Brown's at Petworth in Sussex; Victorian Gardens like Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire, with its wealth of new plants introduced from all over the world; and the famous plantsmen's gardens of the last century, such as Nymans in Sussex, Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, and Hidcote in Gloucestershire.