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The Classic English Garden Featured a Natural Look

The Scottish garden writer Charles McIntosh (1794-1864) in his book of 1853 The Book of the Garden provided a history of the English garden.

He wrote: “The family of the Medici revived and patronized the art of gardening in Italy, and their gardens, which were of

Charles McIntosh preferred the natural landscape garden.
Charles McIntosh preferred the natural landscape garden. An illustration from his The Book of the Garden (1853).

the geometric and architectural style, long served as models for most of Europe…until the introduction of the English, or, as it has been called, the natural style – the conception of Bridgeman, Kent, Wright, Brown, Emes, Price, Knight, and Repton.”

In the eighteenth century the English proposed the natural look to the landscape, which included the lawn, serpentine walks, and usually a lake or pond.

Strange thing was, though it looked natural, it was as well planned and executed as any formal garden. It looked, however, like it had always been there.

The landscape gardeners of that period William Kent, Capability Brown, and Humphry Repton followed this model of the English garden.

McIntosh also discussed the English garden’s influence on America.  “The English style of landscape gardening appears to be with them [the United States] the most popular.”

“Gardening,” he wrote, “as an art of design and taste in Britain, can scarcely be traced historically beyond the time of Henry VIII.”  So it was that in the late 1500s the garden first took on a formal design, also popular at that time in Europe, but in the 1700s the English introduced  the natural look of the landscape.

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