At every stage in every age, we need to ask what owners sought from their gardens. We need to find an answer to the question - what are gardens really for? Charles Quest-Ritson sets out to provide an answer in this history of the English country garden which explains why it changed and evolved as it did. Central to the book is an analysis to how the costs and benefits of gardens and gardening have been perceived through the centuries and the changing aspirations of garden-owners. He explains the social implications of such innovations as garden temples, vineries and herbaceous boarders. We are told that Capability Brown swept away the formal garden of clipped boxes at Pentworth or Longleat and replaced it with a flowing landscape of trees, grass and water. But no one asks why owners were constrained to change their gardens so radically. Why was the formal garden, which had been such a symbol of culture, power and control for 250 years, swept away so suddenly and so completely? Was it just a change of fashion or were there deeper social or financial changes which ushered in the new style? Whilst the gardens of the rich have always been impressive symbols of social and economic success, the gardens of the poor, by contrast, began as a basic means of survival. In a survey spanning the last 500 years, the author shows how gardens have altered across the generations in direct response to changes in society. This is an illuminating piece of social history which reflects England's constant fascination with its gardens and their owners.
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Charles Quest-Ritson is a writer, lecturer, photographer and journalist. For ten years he has edited the beast selling RHS GARDENER'S YEARBOOK, the essential reference work for all keen gardeners, published by Dorling Kindersley.Review:
An iceberg of a book. What we see on the page is supported by a great body of research underneath. This is what gives the book its sweeping style and confidence. . . Written with verve, dash, wit, and style. --Anna Pavord, Independent
An evocation of those happy garden-lovers who had the wealth to live out their dreams in gardens they made in sunny places. . . Exceptionally well-written and deeply researched . . . a tale of romance and horticultural obsession. --Fred Whitsey, Daily Telegraph
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P11014029502X