how grows your garden: vegetable patch kids

Andre Le Notre laid out many noble gardens  which soon became world famous. Versailles in particular was envied by every prince in Europe. And in the century and more that followed, these royal gardens were copied all over the civilized world. Sometimes the results were worthy of the models, as in Austria and Russia, but sometimes they were much less happy, like the European gardens in China which look very odd indeed and quite irresistibly like fairgrounds.

Francois Boucher. Chinese Garden. 1742. Read More:

Versailles is the apotheosis of the formal garden, but what of the others- the landscape gardens which we know of first from the paintings of ancient China? The landscape style, though really no more natural than the formal garden, gives the impression that this delightful scene we have come on is simply a happy accident of nature. There is no question here of a plot enclosed, nothing formal or symmetrical, no straight lines or rigid divisions; the trees and shrubs seem to grow by chance, as if without human interference. It is a style which needs great skill and sensitivity if it is to succeed, and it needs a fertile climate if the plants are to thrive without irrigation. But for whatever reason, Western gardeners had no conception at all of a landscape style. What interest there was in ornamental planting outside the enclosed garden had been concerned with trees: trees for temples and sacred groves, worshiped as shrines or dedicated to the gods.

---Small medieval gardens, or herbers, were generally square or rectangular and surrounded by hedges or walls. Often divided into four equal sections, these gardens featured a fountain or basin in the center and beds or containers of herbs, flowers, roses, and small trees. The garden features other elements typical of the medieval herber or herbarium (a place of refreshment where decorative and useful plants were grown): a tunnel arbor, a garden enclosed with shrubs (or a fence or wall), geometrically laid out beds, a lawn, fruit trees, a water feature (dry or wet), a gravel walk way, and edible and decorative plants mixed together. Fragrant flowers and foliage were greatly valued in the middle ages.--- Read More:

But the love of trees and of landscape only began to have influence in the eighteenth century, first in England where the romantic landscape style developed in revolt against the tyranny of formal gardening, and predictably, it quickly grew to the height of extravagant fashion. Its most famous exponent was Lancelot Brown, nicknamed Capability Brown because he would always find capabilities of improvement in the sites he was given for gardens. He designed in a deceptively simple-seeming style with sweeps of grass and clumps of trees and picturesquely winding water, using this natural material to emphasize the inherent character of the landscape.

---Europe is still frozen but we should not complain – and perhaps our predecessors did not mind the cold either. This brilliant painting of a medieval garden yard is from Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. The painting is dated to c1410 – so we can celebrate its 600th annniversary. The wattle fencing is exquisite. The sheep are better protected than on a modern farm. The beehives are in good order and produced a more nutritious sweetner than our refined and dangerous sugars. Mum is modest but the young girl and boy are exposing their genitals to the warmth of a fire. It reminds me of a lecture from the president of the students union in my first week at university. He solemnly informed his audience that if, before intercourse, a man spent an hour with his testicles between two lightbulbs it would reduce the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. I never put the theory to the test.--- Read More:

In nineteenth-century Europe there was no new gardening style. The formal garden continued or was revived, though the classical vision was lost, and by the end of the century the herbaceous border and the woodland garden developed in revolt against the mechanical degeneration of carpet-bedding.


---Gatton Park is a 250-acre estate near Reigate, Surrey. The park was landscaped by “Capability” Brown in the 1760s and comprises woodlands, grasslands, ponds and a large lake. The beautiful formal gardens were added by Sir Jeremiah Colman of mustard fame during the time he lived there. Following the Edwardian trend in all things Japanese, Sir Jeremiah employed Edward White to create a Japanese garden beside the Engine Pond in 1910.--- Read More:

Reverend William Hanbury ( 1758)

” I may perhaps be reckoned an Enthusiast when I assert that I am really surprised that Men of Fortune do not employ their Time in this manner. I am very certain that the other Amusements they run into are so far from being able to stand in Competition with that more profitable one (of gardening) that the very naming of them with it would be sufficient Invective: Let each Gentleman consider them in his own Mind: He will see the force of what I say: Let him reflect upon Horses and Dogs, Wine and Women, Cards and Folly etc., and then upon Planting. Will not the last engross his whole Mind,

appear worthy of employing all his Attention? Can there be a more genteel, a more rational Amusement? Can any thing tend more to the preserving of Health, and the prolonging of Life? Can any thing be more innocent, or productive of greater Pleasure?” Read More:

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