The Garden Guide

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

History of horticulture in England

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1. Gardening in England in respect to its horticultural Productions 655. The earliest notice of English horticulture which we have met with, is in Gale's History of Ely, and by William of Malmsbury, and belongs to the twelfth century. Brithnod, the first abbot of Ely, in 1107, was celebrated for his skill in gardening, and for the excellent gardens and orchards which he made near that monastery. 'He laid out very extensive gardens and orchards, which he filled with a great variety of herbs, shrubs, and fruit-trees. In a few years the trees which he planted and ingrafted, appeared at a distance like a wood, loaded with the most excellent fruits in great abundance, and added much to the commodiousness and beauty of the place.' (Gale's Hist. of Ely, vol. ii. ch. 2.) The vine, it has been stated, was introduced by the Romans in the third century; and both vineyards and orchards are mentioned by different chroniclers as existing in the fifth and sixth centuries. Indeed, from the name of the apple forming a part of the Irish, Cornish, and Welsh languages, that fruit is conjectured by some to have existed in the British islands even previously to the Roman invasion. (Johnson's History of Gardening, p. 37.) William of Malmsbury speaks of the abundance of vineyards and orchards in the vale of Gloucester. At Edmondsbury, a vineyard was planted for the use of the monks of that place, in 1140.