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The Grand English Gardens Inspired the Small Gardens of Today

The English garden tradition helps us to appreciate today’s English garden.

English garden writer Edward Hyams said in his book The English Garden: “It was in the great gardens that the national horticultural style was formed; that the immense wealth of our plant material was collected; that the technology of English horticulture was developed; and, even, that the small-garden style itself, having been borrowed by such great gardeners as Gertrude Jekyll, was refined, dignified with aesthetic standing by recognition, and had its rules abstracted and stated.”

The palladium bridge at Stourhead in England, a classic English garden.
The palladium bridge at Stourhead in England, a classic English garden.

The classic English garden had certain elements in it that gardens today reflect.

Certainly a lawn is paramount as well as flowering shrubs. Trees delineate the property’s boudary.

Flowers are not out of the question because they played an important role in the nineteenth century English garden.

Then we might also include the need for native plants which came later in the same century.

Though the English garden as reflected in the 1857 volume of the same name by artist Adveno Brooke might have almost 3,000 acres, today’s garden of a much smaller scale still reflects the classic English garden.

The definition of ‘English garden’ is thus time-bound.  Its meaning comes from a particular time in England.  Here we focus on the nineteenth century.

Only in the nineteenth century did gardening first become important to the  middle class.

We can agree with Hyams’ idea that today’s small English garden reflects an English garden tradition, first begun in the estates of wealthy Englishmen in the eighteenth century like Henry Hoare who designed his garden at Stourhead. [above]

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