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Dutch and French Gardening Influenced the Early English Garden until 1700

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.

Hyams The English GardenThere 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.”

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. That sounds like quite the interesting read. I’ve not really thought about the origins of the English garden, but, as Hyams said, what genius taste it was, for there’s nothing quite like an English cottage garden, with its air of plenty and flowers in wild abandon.

    1. Thanks. I love the look, too, of the cottage garden. So much in such a small space – truly a gardener’s delight.

  2. I am so excited that Beth provided a link to your wonderful blog! As an ex-pat., my interest is the English cottage garden in America. I garden in the English style in the Pocono Mountains of PA. I look forward to reading all your entries and will purchase your book. Thanks again to Beth! P. x

    1. Hi Pam, thanks for coming on board. I am happy to see you are reading this blog. Will post material that, hopefully, you will find worth reading and sharing with others. Best.

  3. Hello, I was just introduced to this website by Beth who comments on it. Although I do have the book, much of the content is new and I will be reading through the archives for the next few days (weeks?)

    1. Hello Jane, I am happy you found the blog. I enjoy writing about the American fascination with the English garden, with its many tangents along the way. Hope you enjoy it.

  4. The older garden books are often the best written ones, even if the photo technology and print quality suffer by comparison with modern, glossy garden books. Thanks for sharing your happy find! -Beth

    1. Beth, this book I found by acccident in plowing through cardboard boxes of nonfiction titles. So happy to find it because I had wanted to read it for a long time. Best.

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