Thomas Jefferson Admired the English Garden

The new form of landscape gardening called ‘modern’ evolved in England during the eighteenth century. It was also called the natural or the picturesque view.

On American soil we also found that same style of landscape.

English garden historian Edward Hyams in his book Capability Brown and Humphry Repton mentions a connection between that style of landscape and  Thomas Jefferson who had visited Blenheim and Stowe, both important examples of modern landscape gardening in England.

Hyams writes, “It was as a result of what he saw in these places that in 1806 Jefferson decided to landscape Monticello in the style of English parks.”

Jefferson also admired Chatsworth north of London and Woodlands, the property of William Hamilton in Phildelphia. Both showed a landscape of the style of Lancelot Capability Brown with an extensive lawn.

Monticello in the Fall [Courtesy of the Monticello Foundaiton]

Monticello in the Fall [Courtesy of the Monticello Foundation]

This fall photo of Monticello [above] shows off the lawn which stretches to the front wall of the house.

Capability Brown, the eighteenth century landscape gardener to the King, provided the look of the lawn on many properties in England including Chatsworth and Highclere Castle, the setting for the television series ‘Downton Abbey’.

Hyams writes in his book,”Brown was making pictures, not imitating nature.”

It was Brown who gave the English garden its look in the mid eighteenth  century.  That was the look that Jefferson sought as well.

Hyams writes, “Brown’s style and methods were very widely copied, first of all by imitators in Britain who degraded a great and simple style into a fussy manner; then by the American landowning gentry to whom Thomas Jefferson set the example.”

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