The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 1 Introduction


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London Parks and Gardens, 1907, by Alicia Amherst Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Hyde Park Chapter 3 St. James's and Green Parks Chapter 4 Regent's Park Chapter 5 Greenwich Park Chapter 6 Municipal Parks Chapter 7 Municipal Parks in South London Chapter 8 Commons and Open Spaces Chapter 9 Squares Chapter 10 Burial Grounds Chapter 11 Inns of Court Chapter 12 Historical Gardens Chapter 13 Private Gardens [Alicia Amherst was England's first modern garden historian, in the sense that she had an analytical approach and worked systematically from documentary sources. This method contrasts with that of her predecessors. Horace Walpole, for example, was an essayist and a gossip. JC Loudon made careful use of bibliographic material but was less analytical than Amherst, often relying on on quotations and too partisan in his judgements. Amherst displays excellent design judgement, always critical of municipal park management (eg 'the wriggling paths that municipal authorities seem to deem necessary nowadays' ) and arguing instead for (1) wild life and wild flower conservation (2) good formal design (3) historic conservation (4) good planting design (5) park systems. One can only regret that she was never consulted as a landscape planner. She wrote this book at the start of the twentieth century and, a century later, her views await implementation. London remains a city where dreary municipal authorities aim to manage our public parks and gardens in the manner so ably criticised by Amherst. The solutions are (1) invite professionally trained landscape planners to prepare open space plans (2) appoint professionally trained designers to design and manage parks (3) encourage more diversity of park and garden ownership (4) involve local people in park management and as volunteer workers (5) relegate those whose training is in horticultural management to the management of horticultural material. Tom Turner, 2007].