Sunday, 26 July 2015

My Garden School: Garden History Week 3

I'm having breakfast with Toby again.  This week we have learned about how fashions in gardening changed dramatically within 150 years.  Toby begins by looking at the Palace of Versailles and its origins.  It is the most amazing place, which I have yet to visit but I think I should probably add it to the mythical list that I keep in my head.  The overwhelming message I took from this part of the course was that of wealth and power and how they are portrayed through the garden.  This was not news to me, but to see and hear exactly what this meant in terms of use of resources and to think of the differences between the rich and poor at that time, you can imagine why revolution was not that far away.  One of the most interesting nuggets though for me was the description of the Machine de Marly, what a fascinating piece of engineering that was.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the channel at that point England was in the throes of its own revolution, the Civil War and its outcome and then eventually Restoration.   At this point symmetry was the thing: gardens were lavish, structured and formal.

Toby takes us through the phases of English gardening and landscape design leading us up to the early 19th century.  He guides us through more gardens that I have visited so that yet again I can do that nod of recognition.  He talks us through the growth of a more natural approach, well, I say natural, I mean an unnatural creation of a landscape to look natural.  We are introduced to Lord Burlington and Alexander Pope, who in turn in his Epistle IV to Lord Burlington talks of "consult the genius of the place in all".  It is a time when the senses are opened up, to look beyond the strict formal constructs and look beyond the near and through the landscape.
Gardens were also being influenced by the returners from their Grand Tour, the year or so spent wandering around Europe which invariably resulted in various bits of Europe coming home with them in the form of statues and ideas.  The influences of this are writ large on the homes and landscapes of these wealthy (and lets face it overwhelmingly) men.

We move through Kent, to Brown and Repton and come to rest at John Loudon and the Gardenesque.  If I may be permitted a small sigh, I have a disappointment in that there is no mention of Jane Loudon and how she contributed to her husband's work and the work she did in her own right.

But small sighs aside I am enjoying the course very much.  I am learning a lot and it is making me think which is wanted I wanted from it.  Next week is the last week and it brings us to the present day.

Week 1 Review:  http://www.blackberrygarden.co.uk/2015/07/my-garden-school-garden-history-course.html

Week 2 Review:  http://www.blackberrygarden.co.uk/2015/07/my-garden-school-garden-history-course_19.html

Week 4 Review:  http://www.blackberrygarden.co.uk/2015/08/my-garden-school-garden-history-course.html

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