The Garden Guide

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

History of British Gardening

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CHAPTER IV. Of the Rise, Progress, and present State of Gardening in the British Isles British Gardening, as an Art of Design and Taste 543. That gardening was introduced into Britain by the Romans, there can be but little doubt. According to Strabo, writing early in the first century, 'the people of Britain are generally ignorant of the art of cultivating gardens, as well as of other parts of agriculture' (lib. iii. p. 200.); though it would appear from the same author, that some of them in the southern parts had gardens round their houses. Tacitus, towards the end of the same century (A.D. 79), informs us, that 'the soil and climate were very fit for all kinds of fruit-trees, except the vine and the olive; and for all plants and edible vegetables, except a few, which are peculiar to hotter countries.' (Vita Agric., cap. xiv.) The Romans afterwards found different parts of the country not unfit for the vine; and wine, it is conjectured by some, was made in England towards the end of the third century, under the emperor Probus. Vineyards are mentioned by Bede, in the beginning of the eighth century. They are also noticed in the descriptive accounts of Doomsday; and William of Malmsbury commends the county of Gloucester, in the twelfth century, as excelling all the counties of the kingdom in the number and goodness of its vineyards. (See Harrington and Pegge, in Archï¾µologia.) The remains of Roman villas discovered in different parts of the country, may be considered as existing evidence that gardening was established, both as an art of taste and of, vegetable culture, by the Roman generals and other members of the government. Pliny expressly states, that cherries were introduced into Britain about the middle of the first century: they had been brought to Italy by Lucullus only a century before.