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Many of us get lost in the constant process of remaking and redefining our small urban spaces, forgetting that nature has always been the best and most spectacular garden designer. Released concurrently with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Treasured Lands is a standout picture book with glorious pictures of each of our nation’s 59 national parks, from the famous Yosemite National Park in California to the lesser known but impressive Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska. Treasured Lands is not only the best picture book to capture the vast and diverse American landscape I have seen, it is one of the best picture books I have seen. It makes an ideal gift for the gardener or nature lover on your holiday shopping list.
It took photographer QT Luong 20 years to capture the 500 photographs depicting our 59 national parks. Treasured Lands groups the parks into geographic areas, such as “Pacific Coast & Mountains,” “Rockies & Prairie” and “Tropics,” and provides a helpful summary and map of each park, along with a description of each picture.
Californians will find their state beautifully represented, having the most national parks of any state in the United States with nine. As a teenager, I spent two weeks every summer exploring the remote areas of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. And while a picture can only hint at the majesty of much of our natural beauty, the hint brings back memories. I was particularly taken by a picture of a remote, high alpine scene in Kings Canyon lit by “alpen glow”—the reddish glow on mountain peaks just after sunset. That picture made me recall the majesty of the surrounding mountains lit by constantly changing hues of red, the feel of the cool early evening air on my face, and the sheer quiet punctuated by an occasional gust of wind.
Those who are interested in learning more about the history of our national parks will want to see The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, the six part documentary by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan.