This course is the ideal introduction to English garden history. It provides an overview of five centuries of development, from Baroque formalism through the naturalistic landscape style, right up to contemporary cutting-edge planting style. The course was written by Tim Richardson, an independent garden historian and landscape critic. Tim writes regularly for newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times and Country Life, and is the author of nine books on garden and landscape subjects. He is a trustee of the Garden History Society and a member of the gardens advisory panel of the National Trust.
The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner called the landscape garden Britain's major contribution to the visual arts, and this course aims to explore why and how that came to be so. Beginning in the mid 17th century, when grand gardens were laid out in formal style, the course traces the development of garden style across five centuries. There is special emphasis on the early-18th-century landscape garden, as perhaps the high-point, when politics, art, science, philosophy and gardening intersected in an unprecedented way. Later in the century Capability Brown made the style his own, creating a landscape monopoly across Britain, before Humphry Repton brought back an element of formality in the Regency period. The 19th century witnessed the apogee of the head gardener and the creation of the first public parks, while new plant introductions from China and elsewhere provided new impetus to horticulture.
The 20th century was one of the richest periods in English garden history and will be fully explored here. Gertrude Jekyll pioneered the colour-themed herbaceous border and her partnership with architect Edwin Lutyens created what is often seen as the perfect stylistic union between house and garden. The story is brought right up to date with modules on 20th-century planting theory and contemporary art or sculpture gardens such as Little Sparta.
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.