While on Christmas break I read the book The English Garden by Edward Hyams. The book is now out of print. I found this copy at a local church book sale.
Hyams’ story-telling style kept my interest from the beginning to the end. Many a story did he tell.
There are several illustrations in the book, some in black and white but many in color. The size of the book is large so it probably fits the category of coffee table book. But by no means is it just a collection of pretty pictures.
The history of the English garden is there throughout. In fact, the book begins with the early influences on the garden. For me that early section set the narrative on its course.
Hyams writes, “The dominant influence in English gardening during the Restoration and until the arrival of Dutch gardening with a Dutch king, was that of the French garden architect LeNotre…In the seventeenth century the English discovered their own, subsequently incomparable, genius and taste for gardening.”
He adds this quote from seventeenth century writer Sir Henry Wotton. “Wotton, having admitted that other lands had the benefit of more sun than we could boast of, went on: ‘…yet I have seen in our own a delicate and diligent curiosity without parallel in other nations.’ “
Hymans concludes, “That is still true: Wotton seems to have been the first garden-lover since Roman times to insist a garden should not be regular; or that if it was, then its regularity should be ‘wild’. This was and is the English spirit.”