The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 4: British Gardens (1100-1830)

English flower gardens

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1. Gardening in England, in respect to Botanic Gardens, and the Culture of Flowers and Plants of Ornament 623. The taste for florists' flowers, in England, is generally supposed to have been brought over from Flanders with our worsted manufactures, during the persecutions of Philip II.; and the cruelties of the Duke of Alva, in 1567, were the occasion of our receiving, through the Flemish weavers, gillyflowers, carnations, and Provence roses. But flowers and flowering shrubs were known and prized even in Chaucer's time, as appears from a well-known passage of that poet. An Italian poet published, in 1586, a volume of poems, one of which is On the Royal Garden: from this poem it would appear that Queen Elizabeth was attached to the culture of flowers; but few are named either in these poems, or in the description of Theobalds. Parterres seem to have been introduced in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign, and also the tulip, and the damask and musk roses. The cabbage rose, and several other species were, however, introduced much earlier. Gerard, who published his Herbal in 1597, mentions James Garret, 'a London apothecary, a principal collector and propagator of tulips, for twenty years bringing forth every season new plants of sundry colours not before seen, all which to describe particularly were to roll Sisyphus's stone, or number the sands.'