The Lawn Became Essential for the English Garden

You know that the lawn demands maintenance from spring to fall.

You may wonder why is the lawn such as essential part of the home landscape.

If the American garden owes much of its history in form and structure to the English garden, we need look no further than the late nineteenth century English garden writer William Robinson (1838-1935) for the lawn’s importance.

For Robinson there was no question that the lawn was essential for the English garden.

In 19th cent Robinson encouraged flowering shrubs rather than annuals

Portrait of  Robinson from the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland

He  wrote in his book The English Flower Garden, first published in 1883: “The lawn is the heart of the true English garden.”

He included a lawn, of course, in his own property Gravetye Manor which today is a hotel and restaurant [below].

Robinson said in the same book: “A simple lawn is the happiest thing in a garden. For many years past there has been so much cutting up, geometry, and stonework that it is extremely rare to find a good lawn left.”

He also wrote about the wild garden and naturalizing plants like bulbs for spring color, which Alicia Amherst in her book A History of Gardening in England (1895) considered  a new way of gardening in the late nineteenth century.

Gravetye Manor [Courtesy photo of the Manor]

Robinson’s home called Gravetye Manor is now a hotel.  [Courtesy photo.]

Through his long career as a writer and landscape gardener, Robinson earned the title “father of the English flower garden.”  His preference, however, for “lawns of velvety texture”, as he once wrote, links him to the greensward outside the front door and to the landscape that he came to define at the end of the nineteenth century.

 

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