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A Landscape Unlike Anything Before

[ left: Horace Walpole (1717-1797) English art historian, writer, and gardenist.] 

You love the English garden style, but did you know it took time to achieve that look.

The new naturalistic English garden design of the eighteenth century style evolved over decades.  The style was unlike anything earlier.

Horace Walpole, the writer and garden enthusiast or ‘gardenist’, was important in the new English garden style. He advocated for the more natural, less formal approach, which he claimed was uniquely English, and not dependent on the Chinese or Italian garden design.

Isabel Wakelin Urban Chase in her book Horace Walpole: Gardenist wrote: “When eighteenth century owners of landed estates first began to design gardens along naturalistic lines, they had no traditional experience to draw upon. They were working in an unfamiliar medium. They were also under the handicap of using plants, shrubs, and trees, many of them recently introduced into England, about which they knew little or nothing.

“While some succeeded better than others, it was largely owing to chance, or the beauty of the locality, or to some amount of natural artistic ability rather than to any definite rules for irregular garden design which had as yet been evolved. As Walpole remarked: ‘It is surprising how much beauty has been struck out, with how few absurdities.’ ”

So in the history of the English garden there was a sense of not knowing how to do things, bending the rules of the old form of design, and just going ahead with what landscape gardeners considered a new art form.

Today we gardeners can also push forward into an unknown zone, to experiment with how the new garden, the new landscape, will look, in a time when we are more concerned about issues like sustainability.

What do you think about the movement of a true American landscape design?


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