My Garden School Garden History Course - Week 2

This week I have been having breakfast with Toby.  Toby may be looking confused at this moment, but in order to find time to watch my lecture I did so over breakfast.  It's been a very busy week work wise and I the evenings I have arrived home too brain-dead to think about much, but I am determined to find time for this course.

This week we have been looking at early Islamic and renaissance gardens.  At this point the course has moved into more familiar territory for me.  Suddenly there are things I recognise more, I have (sketchy) knowledge of Islamic gardens and only slightly less sketchy knowledge of Renaissance ones, but it was enough to make me nod in places in that 'I recognise that' way.  Also, particularly interesting from my point of view was that some of the gardens covered I am go to next year on a planned trip to Italy.  This has the bonus of giving me information before I go and get me even more excited about next year's hols - a double win!
The section on Islamic gardens was fascinating, I enjoyed finding out about the meanings ascribed to the gardens and I think it helps inform my enjoyment of these gardens.  I have long thought that a garden should be enjoyable on a variety of levels.  Many years ago now when I started dragging friends around gardens, I would sometimes get the response:  I will come with you but I won't understand it.  My reply was always that you don't have to understand it, you just have to be able to form an opinion about whether you like it or not and be able to articulate that opinion.  I still fundamentally believe this; but I also believe that finding out about a garden and knowing what it is based on and aiming to do significantly adds to my enjoyment.  The upshot of \all this is, I now want to visit some Islamic gardens, which I already knew, but now it feels more urgent.

The section on the development of European Renaissance gardens was equally fascinating.  I have watched some programmes about Renaissance Italian gardens (yes Monty, I mean you) so some of the information was not unfamiliar though the course goes into more detail (as you would expect).  Then we go to look at England, which I have to say at this point I was thinking 'did we not have any gardens in the UK?'  Apparently we had not particularly got into gardening at this stage and we were behind in terms of the influence of the Renaissance.  I would have expected that if no where else that monasteries did have some form of gardening but I imagine that food growing was paramount.  
I am really looking forward to next week where were are looking at, amongst other things, the English Landscape garden.  I  am already thinking that the final outcome of this course is going to be that I want to do another course.

Anyway, must get on, homework for week 2 to be done now.

Note:  photographs are from my recent visit to Gwydir Castle of their Elizabethan garden arch.

Week 1 Review

Week 3 Review

Week 4


  1. Sounds really interesting, particularly the Islamic gardens. How do you find the homework? Do you have to do it? I'm sure you learn more by doing it, I was just wondering.

    I'm surprised at the lack of info on early English gardens. I have a little book on medieval gardens, so I know they were there, particularly physic gardens.

    1. The home work is really straightforward, it is good because it does make you think about what you have been told so it is how the actual 'learning' happens, (well in my opinion anyway). The homework just involves comparing and contrasting one form of garden with another, which is not difficult as you sort of do that in your head as you are listening to the lectures. I think this week's homework, as it builds on last week's, is easier to get a grip on - on saying that I need to sit down and do it!

      I think this week's lecture focuses more on Europe and the UK - I agree, there was gardening though different to what was happening in Europe/Asia (see, comparing and constrasting already:) )

    2. I love foreign garden designs. Each part of the world has its unique atmosphere and garden architecture, however I think that the ancient gardens in Asia were the finest.

  2. This sounds fascinating – I always enjoy the Alhambra garden in Roundhay Park in Leeds and I'd like to see some more (preferably somewhere nice and warm!)


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