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The Lawn Distinguished the Modern English Garden in the Eighteenth Century

The pioneers of the modern English garden introduced in the eighteenth century were William Kent, Batty Langley, Lancelot Brown, and Humphry Repton, according to Richardson Wright in his book The Story of Gardening: From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the Hanging Gardens of New York.

Each encouraged, Brown perhaps more than the others, the lawn as an integral part of the landscape.

Wright says in his book, “The English lawn [from the early eighteenth century] may have been one of the factors that induced the tide to turn against the formalism of the Dutch garden and the geometric exactness of the French, for this revolt broke down the walls and hedges that enclosed gardens so that their lawns could encroach on the surrounding meadows and country-side.”

The Duke of Derbyshire’s estate called Chatsworth, a three-hour drive north of London, still glories in its landscape design, representing both the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries.

At Chatsworth its lawn is something I will not soon forget. Here in this photo I took you can see how central a role the lawn plays in the garden. [below]

Chatsworth, in northern England

The lawn, of course, would remain the symbol of the English garden well into the nineteenth century. With the first writing at the beginning and the other at the end of the nineteenth century, English horticulturists John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843) and William Robinson (1838-1935) wrote about the lawn’s central role in the landscape.

It is no surprise that since the American gardener still treasures the English garden, the lawn continues as part of the home landscape.

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