Contents of the Garden History Reference Encyclopedia
eTEXTS: The 100+ eTexts in the Encyclopedia are listed below
BIOGRAPHY: there is an alphabetical index with links to biographies of famous designers, writers and patrons who have guided the course of garden design history
GLOSSARY: there are explanations of garden history terms, with links to examples of their use in the eTexts
STYLES: there are diagrams of 24 key garden types and styles
TIMELINE: a combination of the 24 style diagrams with links to key persons and key examples
General histories of garden design
Garden History Guide. An overview of garden history from 2000 BC to 2000 AD (by Tom Turner). It introduces the subject and serves as a guide to the other resources in the Encyclopedia (approx 2,500 pages, 1.5m words and 2,000 illustrations).
Tom Turner Garden Design in the British Isles: History and styles since 1650 (1986, 2000) The Encyclopedia edition has been revised, with additional illustrations and hyperlinks to garden descriptions.
Marie-Luise Gothein History of garden art (English edition, 1928) Gothein's book, originally published in German (Geschichte der Gartenkunst, 1914 ), provides by far the best and by far the most comprehensive account of garden history from antiquity up to the start of the twentieth century.
eTexts relating to Ancient Egypt
Egyptian Book of the Dead (excerpts)
Herodotus journeyed to Egypt and down the Nile in the 5th century BC and included valuable information on sanctuaries, gardens, groves and statues.
A journey down the Nile in 1902, with romantic paintings of the people and the landscape
A visit to the Estate of Amun in 1909, with paintings capturing the mood of the ancient monuments
A journey down the Nile in 1914, with photographs of the monuments before they were restored and details of how the author's family hired a house boat and 'sailed away into a lotus land of sunshine and silent waters for five or six months'
eTexts relating to Ancient West Asia
The Song of Solomon from Old Testament of The Bible (also known as the Song of Songs). The greatest erotic love song in Western literature, making the association of gardens and love. It has been a profound influence on western thinking about gardens. 'The entire world, all of it, it not equal in worth to the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel.'
Excerpts from The Bible relating to gardens. The Garden of Eden was thought to have been in West Asia.
Excerpts from The Koran relating to gardens. Because gardens were so often used as a symbol of paradise, there are more references to gardens in The Koran than in The Bible.
eTexts relating to Ancient Greece
Plato's discussion of 'imitation' (mimesis) is explained and discussed. Book X of The Republic (c370 BC) is in the Encyclopedia . Plato's Theory of Forms led to the aesthetic principle that 'Art should Imitate Nature' which had a profound influence on western art in general and garden design in particular.
Homer, excerpts from the Iliad and Odyssey relating to gardens
Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough (1890). The chapter in the Encyclopedia describes 'The Ritual of Adonis'. It is written by the founder of modern anthropology and helps to explain the Adonis Cult, which provides evidence of plants being grown in Greek courtyard gardens, and of the spirit in which sacred groves were made in Ancient Greece.
eTexts relating to The Roman Empire
Vitruvius Pollio on landscape architecture and garden design (27 BC) from de Architectura. Vitruvius was a Roman and wrote the oldest western book on design to have survived. It lays down the principle that places should have 'commodity, firmness and delight'. Book 1, Chapters 1-7, are in the Encyclopedia .
Excerpts from Ovid's Metamorphosis (1-8 AD) and Art of Love (1 BC). Ovid's poetry provided a rich source of imagery for garden designers and for the artists who made garden sculpture.
Pliny the Younger's letters describing his own gardens (c100 AD). These letters are the best surviving descriptions of Roman gardens and of how their owners used them. Pliny owned many gardens and 500 slaves.
Cicero, excerpts from his letters relating to gardens
Virgil's Aenead, sections relating to gardens
Life of St Martin The first outstanding monastic leader in France was St Martin of Tours (c316-397). His account of how he destroyed the sacred groves of the pagan religion does much to explain why Europe has such scanty remains of this type of outdoor space.
Ibn Battuta's account of Constantinople c1300
eTexts relating to Medieval Gardens
Charlemagne's 'chapter' (capitulary) on gardens gave detailed instructions for the plants to be used in the royal gardens and for the management of his lands. They are key texts for the study of medieval gardens, c800 AD.
A note on 'Irminsul.' , the sacred tree of the Saxons, destroyed by the Christians.
Guillaume de Lorris' Romance of the Rose or Roman de la Rose (c1250). This is an allegorical poem, inspired by Ovid, in which gardens and roses are associated with romantic love ('Full many a time I smote and struck the door and listened for someone to let me in')
Excerpts from Boccaccio's Decameron (1353), with classical descriptions of medieval garden scenes. The tales are famed for their sexual intrigue and this aspect is more prominent than garden scenery in the illustrations in the Encyclopedia .
Albertus Magnus advice on how to make a pleasure garden (1206)
Walafried Strabbo's poem Hortulus. This is the literary classic of medieval garden literature, celebrating the delight of plants in monastic life and giving detailed information on the culture and uses of plants.
The Life of St Anthony, relating to the origin of monastic gardening
The Life of St Philbert, relating to the origin of the European monastic cloister. He was Abbot of Jumièges in France c750.
A set of quotations from The Bible which make reference to gardens.(61 No)
eTexts relating to Islamic Gardens
A set of quotations from The Koran which make reference to gardens (151 No)
The Spanish Ambassador's visit to Samarkand, in 1404, with his descriptions of Mughal gardens
Babur's Memoir, Babur admired the gardens he had seen and, after founding a Mughal Empire, made gardens he made in India
Persian gardens were in better condition in 1900 than in 2000, and better still in 1700. This gives a particular importance to past travellers descriptions of their use and form. There sections from the following accounts of visits to Persian gardens in the Encyclopedia (and engravings, to capture the flavour of Persian gardens as they were)
Montesquieu's Persian letters (1721) contained little information on Pesian gardens but did much to awaken interest in seraglios and the 'romance of the East'.
Washington Irving, the 'father of American literature' published a famous account of the Alhambra in 1832. He was a friend of Sir Walter Scott and has the same interest in welding history with imagination. This provides a glimpse of the Alhambra and Generalife when they were, beyond question, the finest gardens in Europe.
eTexts relating to Renaissance Gardens
Plotinus The Enneads Eighth Tractate: 'On the Intellectual Beauty'. Plotinus (205-270AD) was 'rediscovered' during the renaissance, in the Platonic Academy founded at Careggi, and came to have a profound influence on renaissance design methods
St Augustine's conversion took place in a garden in Milan (described in his Confessions) and was often chosen as a frontispiece to editions of his work. Augustine is regarded as the greatest Christian thinker of antiquity, the transmitter of Plato and Aristotle to medieval and renaissance Christianity.
Leon Battista Alberti On Garden Design (1485) from De re aedificatoria libri X (Ten Books on Architecture). Drawing from Pliny and Vitruvius, the humanist scholar set forth the principles for the design of renaissance villas. They were taken up by Donato Bramante and guided the course of garden design for two centuries.
Vasari's biographical note on Leon Battista Alberti describes his multi-faced genius.
Leonardo da Vinci note on the design of a water garden (from his Notebooks) with a reference to his interpretation of Vitruvius
Andrea Palladio's I Quattro Libri dell'Architecttura (The Four Books of Architecture) (1570) is one of the most influential design works ever published. The quotations in the Encyclopedia relate to the placing of buildings and Neoplatonism.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne's diary accounts of Italian Gardens (1580-1) let us view many still-famous Italian gardens through the eyes of a French renaissance traveller and writer. Montaigne invented the 'essay form'.
William Shakespeare's mention of gardens (30 No.) tell much of the gardens he knew. Despite his dates (1564-1616) these gardens are medieval, with only the slightest renaissance accent.
Francis Bacon's Essay 'On Gardens' (1625). This famous essay, by a philosopher and scientist, in Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe's words 'magisterially lays down the fundamental principles of gardening'. It begins with the words 'God Almighty first planted a garden' and praises wildness in gardens.
John Evelyn's diary accounts of gardens in France and Italy visited between 1644 and 1685. As with Montaigne's diary, they provide contemporary descriptions of French and Italian parks and gardens.
Andrew Marvell's The Garden (c1650) celebrates the delights in the symbolism of seventeenth century enclosed gardens. Marvell's Upon Appleton House, to my Lord Fairfax contains some garden description.
The Garden by Abraham Cowley 'I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as ....that I might be master at last of a small house and large garden
Sir Thomas Browne's essay on The Garden of Cyrus deals with the history of gardens, as viewed from 1658 (an extract is in the Encyclopedia )
eTexts relating to Enlightenment Gardens
René Descartes Descartes did not write either on aesthetics or on garden design, but historians continue to speak of the 'Cartesian Garden', by which they mean a geometrical garden. The Encyclopedia contains the text and a comment on his Discourse on the method of rightly conducting the reason, and seeking truth in the sciences.(1637) This short book laid the foundation for the philosophy of the Enlightenment and for Neoclassical aesthetics.
John James Theory and Practice of Gardening was published in 1712, based on A J Dezallier d'Arganville and Le Blond. It became the standard book on laying out a French baroque garden and provides a fascinating insight into how this was done. James also 'introduced the concept of the ha-ha and anticipated Pope's famous dictum on the genius of the place'. The Encyclopedia has 3 chapters, 4 plates and a discussion of James' book.
Alexander Pope's and his Essay on Criticism (1711) Epistle to Lord Burlington (1731). The former summarises contemporary attitudes to gardens and the latter summarises contemporary (rationalist-Neoclassical) aesthetic theory: based on Reason, Nature and the Genius of the Place.
John Serle's plan of Alexander Pope's garden at the time of his death, and his description of Pope's grotto (+ photographs of the grotto and its setting)
Sir Joshua Reynolds Discourses were delivered at the Royal Academy in London between 1769 and 1790 embody 'The basic ideas of neoclassical theory in the fine arts were set forth in definitive form, with clarity and grace'. The Encyclopedia contains relevant quotations.
eTexts relating to Romantic Gardens
William Temple's essay 'Upon the Gardens of Epicurus: or Of Gardening' (1685) is extravagantly praised by Nicholas Pevsner. He claims this essay 'started a line of thought and visual conceptions which were to dominate first England and then the World for two centuries.' The full text is in the Encyclopedia .
Jospeh Addison's Essay 161 made the key association of natural scenery with liberty and freedom. Essay 37 describes a perfect garden in which reason and nature go hand in hand. Essay 414 sees the works of nature as more delightful than artificial arrangements. Essay 417 supports Locke's theory of knowledge. Essay 477 describes Addison's own garden at Bilton.
William Shenstone A description of The Leasowes. This was one of the landscape gardens most admired in continental Europe, partly because it was the work of a poet and partly because it combined use and beauty - a ferme orneé. The full text of his publisher's description is in the Encyclopedia .
William Shenstone 'Unconnected thoughts on gardening'. The invention of the term 'landskip gardening' is attributed to Shenstone.
Edmund Burke An essay on the sublime and beautiful (1757). Taking an empiricist approach, Burke attacks Vitruvian and rationalist aesthetics. He also discusses garden design, praising Hogarth's 'line of beauty' (which Brown followed) and comparing 'smooth streams in the landscape' with ' in fine women smooth skins'.
Quotations from Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, describing the principles on which he worked.
Horace Walpole's essay 'On Gardening' (1780). The most brilliant and influential essay ever written on the development English park and garden design.
Thomas Jefferson's descriptions of English gardens
John Claudius Loudon's biography of Humphry Repton (1840). After Repton's own writings, this is the primary source of information on Humphry Repton's life and work.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau one of the letters from La Nouvelle Héloise deal's with Julie's garden. It is a romantic treatment of an ancient theme, making the association between women, sex and gardens (see above references the Song of Solomon, the Romance of the Rose and Boccaccio. Also the reference below to Goethe).
Uvedale Price On the Picturesque (1794) Excerpt from Chapter 1 and Chapter 4. Price was a widely respected authority on picturesque taste in gardens.
Humphry Repton 'A letter to Mr Price' (1795)
Humphry Repton Sketches and Hints (1795) This is Repton's first theoretical statement on his chosen professional (Introduction and Chapter 1 on Encyclopedia )
Humphry Repton Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1816) The Fragment reproduced (No 27) comes from the Red Book for Ashridge - a favourite project and the occasion for Repton's advocacy of what became the Mixed Style of garden design.
eTexts relating to Nineteenth Century Gardens
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Elective Affinities (1809). Like Rousseau, Goethe admired 'natural' gardens. He also drew gardens and designed gardens. The section reproduced in the Encyclopedia deals with the design of a romantic garden.
Jane Loudon's life of her husband John Claudius Loudon (1843). Jane was a novelist and her memoir is as touching as it is important as the key source of information on her husband - who was the most influential garden writer of the nineteenth century. Loudon's influence was particularly important in America.
Edward Kemp How to lay out a garden (1864 edn). Excerpts giving his views on styles of garden design and describing two gardens which he designed. It presents a somewhat depressing picture of the confusion which reigned in the mid-nineteenth century garden aesthetics - and continues to reign in many of the world's municipal parks departments..
Sir Walter Scott, excerpt from Waverly and from The Quarterly Review on gardens. Scott's remarks can be read in conjunction with those of his friends, Gilbert Laing Meason and Washington Irving. They introduced a romantic-historical dimension to garden design and appreciation.
Gustave Flaubert Bouvard and Pécuchet. Flaubert satirizes the bourgeois taste in garden design displayed by the characters whose names form the title of his last novel.
Famous Parks and Gardens of the World - the book was published anonymously and provides a good illustration of European gardening opinion in 1880. The Preface and Chapter 10 are in the Encyclopedia .
Ludwig II of Bavaria: the romantic gardens of the 'Mad King' were rich in historical associations.
eTexts relating to the History of Landscape Architecture
Guide to the History of Landscape Architecture, by Tom Turner
Gilbert Laing Meason. The full text of Meason's On the Landscape Architecture of the Great Painters of Italy (London 1828). Meason was the 'inventor' of the term Landscape Architecture, which has since come to be used by a world-wide profession, represented by the International Federation of Landscape Architects, by the American Society of Landscape Architects, by the UK Landscape Institute and numerous other national associations. Only 150 copies of his book were printed and its contents are not well known. This is the first time the book has been re-published. It is accompanied with an analysis of the text by Tom Turner. A clear appreciation of how landscape architecture began is regarded as central to comprehension of the modern profession.
Notes on the Top twenty theorists and designers in the history of landscape architecture and on the question What is landscape architecture?
John Claudius Loudon's included comments on Meason in his Gardener's Magazine (1828) and in his Encyclopedia of Architecture (1833). These comments transmitted the term to Andew Jackson Downing and, later, to Frederick Law Olmsted - setting the course of American landscape architecture.
Andrew Jackson Downing's Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. (Section 1, Section 2 and Section 9). Downing was 'the first American writer on landscape architectural topics' (Norman T Newton in Design on the Land) and an 'incalcuable' influence on American garden design and landscape architecture (Oxford Companion to Gardens). Loudon's writings were his starting point.
Frederick Law Olmsted's description of his winning design for the Central Park, New York, competition (1858). Olmsted 'the father of American landscape architecture' entered the profession as a result of the Greensward Plan for Central Park, done in partnership with the English architect Calvert Vaux.
Norman T Newton's account of the scope of landscape architecture, from Design on the land.
Geoffrey Jellicoe's account of the scope of landscape design, from the Landscape of Man
Ian McHarg: notes and links on the twentieth century's outstanding landscape planner.
eTexts relating to Arts and Crafts Gardens
William Morris' essay on Hopes and fears for art in which he criticises carpet bedding and makes the point that gardens should be works of art and of craft.
Thomas Huxley's discussion of Evolution and ethics (1859), in which he views his own garden as a 'work of art' in contrast to the 'state of nature' which existed before it was made.
William Robinson The Wild Garden (1881 edn Chapters 1-5, originally published by John Murray and reproduced with their permission). Robinson is described by Jekyll (in the reference below) as 'our great champion of hardy flowers'. He urged the use of hardy plants, instead of subtropical plants and carpet bedding, in garden design. He had a sharp dispute with Blomfield (below).
John D Sedding Garden craft old and new (1891) introduced his book with a chapter on The Theory of the Garden. There are 2 chapters in the Encyclopedia .
Reginald Blomfield's The Formal garden in England (1901 edn, originally published by MacMillan and reproduced with their permission). A contemporary review in The Times said 'Mr. Blomfield's historical sketch of the art of gardening in England is full of interest and instruction, and his polemic against the so-called landscape gardeners is vigorous, incisive, and to our mind convincing.' The book is undoubtedly polemical, but commendably scholarly. Blomfield was the son of a bishop and had a hatred of modernism.
Gertrude Jekyll's account of garden design (from Wall water and woodland gardens, 1901, originally published by Country Life and reproduced with their permission). Jekyll was the most influential writer on planting design in the twentieth century. This chapter is the clearest statement of her views on the history and theory of garden design.
eTexts relating to Design Methods
Design methodology: an overview by Tom Turner
Surface water drainage and management (from Landscape Design October 1985) arguing for 'privileging' water in the design procedure
Wilderness and plenty: construction and deconstruction (from Urban Design Quarterly September 1992) arguing that the professional structure of the construction industry would benefit from deconstruction.
'Feminine' landscape design: a tale of two tragedies (from a Sheffield Spring School lecture, April 1993) arguing for the 'way of the hunter' to be balanced by the 'way of the nester'
Postmodern landscapes (from Landscape Design May 1993) arguing for landscape and garden designers to take account of postmodern ideas and theories in their work
Pattern analysis (from Landscape Design October 1991) arguing for a design method based on pattern analysis, instead of the modernist Survey-Analysis-Design (SAD) method taught in most of the world's landscape and garden design schools.
Revolutions in the garden (from Tom Turner's City as landscape, Spons 1996). After looking at the design revolutions which have taken place in the 1690s, 1790s, and 1890s this essay finds the seeds of a fourth design revolution in the work of Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, Charles Jencks, and Ian Hamilton Finlay.
The flowers of garden design theory (from Garden Design Journal Autumn 1999, published as 'Timeless with delight') this article suggests a design method which integrates knowledge drawn from various fields, including the fine arts, philosophy, the natural and social sciences.
PAKILDA: Pattern Assisted Knowledge Intensive Landscape Design Approach (from Landscape Design May 2001). Developing the method outlined in the Garden Design Journal, this article the recommends a design method for landscape design and planning.
Design history and theory (from a lecture delivered at the University of Uppsala in April 2002) this article relates the PAKILDA method to the set of design objectives outlined by Vitruvius in the first century: utilitas (Commodity), firmitas (Firmness) and venustas (Delight).
eTexts relating to Twentieth Century Gardens
There are histories of American Garden Design in the Encyclopedia , written in 1834, 1928 and 2001.
Geoffrey Jellicoe: a collection of information on his work, including an essay by Tom Turner on: Geoffrey Jellicoe, the subconscious and landscape design (1998)
Garden Revolutions: an essay in which it is argued that 'structuralism can infuse gardens with post-Postmodern ideas and beliefs. It is a layered approach to garden making. '