Loudon’s Work Defined the Nineteenth Century English Garden

The meaning of the expression ‘English garden’ depends on what time period in English garden history one chooses.

Here its meaning comes from the nineteenth century.

John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843) has been called the father of the English garden.  He made the middle class feel that gardening was worthwhile, and not simply for the aristocracy.  He opened gardening to everyone.

English horticulturist and writer John Claudius Loudon

English horticulturist and writer John Claudius Loudon

Edward Hyams in his book The English Garden wrote of Loudon: “The man of genius, and of incredible industry, who linked the Pope-Brown-Repton era to the era of high gardening, who linked art and science, who linked aesthetics and technics, was John Claudius Loudon.”

Because he was both  a practical gardener and a writer, Loudon spread his message about the garden across the country and to America as well.  New York nurseryman and landscape gardener Andrew Jackson Downing looked on Loudon as his mentor.

Hyams wrote: “Loudon was the first garden writer to state, unequivacally, and in so many words, what was meant by the term ‘English garden’, which by that time had a definite meaning for foreigners.”

In his books and his periodical Gardener’s Magazine Loudon wrote of the English garden in detail.

Loudon defined the garden as a display of the beauty of trees and shrubs, as if in nature, with a lawn and gravel walkways.

Thus it was mainly a natural landscape more than a formal or symmetrical style that Loudon defined as the English garden.

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