Earthly paradises: the best of the year’s gardening books

Important historic gardens fall into two main categories: those made by one person, whose vision has been carefully preserved down the years, sometimes for centuries, and those that are altered and developed by succeeding generations. Rousham, in Oxfordshire, is an example of the first and Bodnant, in the Conwy valley in north Wales, the second. Books on both have been published this year. Francis Hamel is an artist, whose studio is in an old stable close to ‘the big house’ at Rousham, which was built in 1635 by the Dormer family. With the exception of the present owners, Charles and Angela Cottrell-Dormer — whose ancestor, General James Dormer, employed William