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Elizabethan Gentleman Needed Gardening Skill

To fit into any society, a person needs to reflect what is important to the culture at that time.

In the case of the Elizabethan gentleman [below] there were certain expectations that society at that time demanded.

Robert Dudley, the First Earl of Leicester c. 1560 by van der Muelin (Yale Center for British Art). 

In the case of what the prevailing sentiment was looking for in an Elizabethan gentleman, Margaret Willes spells it out in her book The Making of the English Gardener: Plants, Books, and Inspiration 1560-1660.

She writes, “The prerequisites of an Elizabethan gentleman are usually described as an ability to sit well on a horse,

“to use a sword with a flourish,

“to turn an elegant leg on the dance floor,

“and to compose a clever verse for the beloved.”

But gardening was becoming important, especially for wealthy aristocrats.

Therefore, Willes says, “But contemporary records show that interests in natural science and in gardening were also considered assets.”

Then she gives more detail on gardens and plants at that time when flower gardens were emerging in response to all the new plants arriving from Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

She writes, “Botanical gardens were an important adjunct to the faculties of medicine in universities, but noblemen and merchants also had similar gardens where they could display their new and strange plants.”

It was the late sixteenth century and time of the emerging flower garden, designed and installed first for the wealthy aristocrat.

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