The Landscape Guide


PREFACE to the first internet edition (1998)

 GARDEN DESIGN IN THE BRITISH ISLES: history and styles since 1650

Reading on screen is arduous, compared with reading a printed page. I have therefore aimed to provide the reader with the following compensations: 

  1. The text has been updated. This includes some corrections, some revisions and a few changes of mind  (which are also on the 2002 CD edition). Perhaps the most significant changes are to the names of four styles of garden design:
  • The first phase of the Serpentine Style has been named the ‘Augustan Style’, because its plan geometry was not serpentine and its inspiration came from the Rome of Augustus.
  • The ‘Transition Style’ is now called the ‘Landscape Style’ for two reasons. First, the organisation of landscape paintings was a significant influence on the style. Second, when applied to a style, ‘transitional’ generally means ‘halfway from one style to another style’. A transition from regular to irregular was the leading characteristic of the style, but it was the culmination of a long period of stylistic change – not a halfway house to something else.
  • The ‘Irregular Style’ has been named the Picturesque Style, because the Picturesque (with a capital P) ideas of Gilpin, Price and Knight were the chief influence on the style.
  • The term ‘Gardenesque Style’ is now used, precisely in Loudon’s sense, to describe a natural arrangement of exotic plants, as in the great woodland gardens.
  • Bulleted lists and hyperlinks within the text have been provided to compensate the reader for not being able to flick through a set of printed pages. Clicking on these links provides a way of moving around the book. My guess is that reading an internet book will be more of a self-structured ‘postmodern’ experience than the linear progression encouraged by a printed page.
  1. Hyperlinks to the gardens cited in the text have been provided. The aim is to inform the reader of garden locations and of what may be seen. If the links to Style Diagrams are followed, the browser will find many examples of the identified styles. Eleven styles were named in the first edition and there are fourteen in this edition. The additional styles are: Augustan, Gardenesque and Postmodern.
  2. The set of illustrations will not be the same as in the printed edition: there are more pictures of gardens, and fewer from books, because the internet edition has been planned to support the guide to gardens open to the public.
  3. The bibliographc references have been omitted. Readers who wish to consult them are likely to be in a library and will find the printed text more convenient. Some bibliographic information is provided with the hyperlinks. 

The book’s title has been changed from English garden design: history and styles since 1650 to Garden design in the British Isles: history and styles since 1650. The change was made partly in the interests of geographical accuracy and partly with regard to the author’s view that garden design is, and always has been, a Europe-wide art. One cannot make sense of stylistic developments through looking at a political entity. Those who chronicle the history of garden art at the end of the twenty-first century will surely have to take a world-view.

The Preface to the 1986 printed edition of this book made ' a personal plea for some restoration projects which would be of special historical value as examples of poorly represented styles'. The plea had no influence upon events but the following update may be of interest to readers: (1)  The semi-circular parterre at Hampton Court, known as the Fountain Garden, has not changed. But the nearby Privy Garden has been restored with the greatest possible care for historical accuracy. I believe this was an error of judgement: the Privy Garden is an unremarkable as a Baroque parterre but looked good in its picturesque 1986 condition. The Fountain Garden remains rather ugly but would have been very splendid - if restored in the manner of the Privy Garden. (2)  The Giant Steps in Greenwich Park have not been restored. The Royal Parks Agency commissioned a design for a Baroque water cascade on the site. It was opposed by the local people. I can see a strong case for restoring the original steps which would have been like Bridgeman's theatre at Claremont Landscape Garden. Or one could make a respectable case for a new design on the site. But 'restoring' a cascade which never existed would have been illogical. (3)  The Leasowes is now run as a country park. (4)  Nothing has been done about the parterre at Melbourne Hall or the ornamental farm at Great Tew (5)  Gertrude Jekyll's garden at Munstead Wood is, I am delighted to report, being restored.