nature abhors a straight line

England’s original contribution to garden art is the landscape park. William Kent was among the first to see that “all nature is a garden.” and his famous dictum that ” nature abhors a straight line.” Interesting in light of linear normative religious doctrine of the straight and narrow and the straight as an arrow ways of the righteous. Perhaps he found something revolutionary and transgressive in the patch as later Walter Benjamin when writing on children referred to their “messy antics.” All in all, an attempt at the choreographing of nature and a recreating of the pastoral, a copy of Arcadia. The designing of the garden came to be a necessary and essential leisure activity for the privileged, and through this process, what be became known as “space for improvement”  were developed.

---The Pagoda was originally flanked by two other exotic buildings: the Alhambra and the Mosque. The latter stood on a mound where the Japanese Gateway is now located. Part of a ditch and a fence which confined sheep and cattle to a grazing land can also be seen in this engraving. --- Read More:

In any event, Kent’s pronouncement echoed Da Vinci in the unusual formations and contexts to which the Golden Mean or Divine Ratio could be found as representation of beauty and at the same time dismissed the conventional design of gardens that had been built up since the Renaissance,referred to now as “unnatural bad taste.”

---Frederick was both a connoisseur and a discriminating gardener. He leased extra land to extend the garden of the White House. He created a lake of which the pond in front of the Palm House is a surviving fragment. He subscribed to the then current fashion for chinoiserie by installing a Chinese arch and this summer house, called the House of Confucius. --- Read More:

“An open country is but a canvas on which a landscape might be designed.” According to Horace Walpole. And if Renaissance gardens are most helpfully considered as music, the landscape style should certainly be looked at as painting.

These new master gardeners were now known as “Improvers of Nature.” Capability Brown was the most admired, and his gardens now well over two centuries later retain their superb qualities, with the trees now grown to their full majestic height. It was Brown who laid out the part of Kew Gardens known as Syon Vista, scoping out the flat banks of the River Thames to form an artificial lake, piling the earth in little natural-looking hills which he heightened with trees.

A "Gothick Grotto" Read More:

Other designers were less restrained in their tastes. There was Sir William Chambers, for instance, who came back from China to fill his gardens with all kinds of Oriental follies. They were much admired , and the gardens of England came to be studded with Gothic dovecotes, Turkish mosques, temples of Venus and pedimented gates. To one of these Pope addressed an epigram beginning ” Oh gate , how cam’st thou here?”

Artificial ruin in the Gardens at Kew---Sir William Chambers. ...The ruined arch is a conceit, a mock ruin, designed at a time when such artificial structures were popular in fashionable gardens, that is if a real ruin couldn't be provided. ...Read More:

Fake Gothic ruins were particularly fashionable and a “layout” was not considered complete without a moldering arch. But these fashionable fancies were not to everyone’s taste. In 1778 Lord Lyttleton was moved to protest the “little white edifices” in the famous garden of his cousin, Lord Temple at Stowe. He wrote, “Our climate is not fitted to the deities of Italy and Greece, and in a hard winter, I feel for the shuddering divinities.”


The 18th century was the century of gardens. A veritable craze simultaneously swept over Great Britain, the Continent, Scandinavia and Russia. Influenced by the Enlightenment the gardens addressed a tradition dating thousands of years back in a new way. The ideals were a certain natural touch, as if there were blurring boundaries between the landscape gardens and the surrounding scenery….

---the most fashionable gardens had hermitages-complete with a live in hermit! notable families would hire a man to sit and contemplate for 5 to 7 years in these utopian settings without cutting their hair, nails, or speaking. their hermit reminded them of the contemplative life and the poems of John Milton. “And may at last my weary age Find out the peaceful hermitage, The hairy gown and mossy cell Where I may sit and rightly spell Of every star that heav’n doth show, And every herb that sips the dew; Till old experience do attain To something like prophetic strain. These pleasures, Melancholy, give, And I with thee will choose to live” Read More:

…In general this new concept of garden aesthetic has been referred to as ‘the English garden’ among many other names such as ‘the picturesque garden’, ‘the informal garden’ or ‘the irregular garden’. And the contemporary writings talked about the anglomania when referring to this seemingly endless stream of landscape scenes and modes of regarding the landscape as a stage that influenced the garden layouts. It can be questioned to what extent the source of this new garden aesthetic was solely British. The underlying aesthetic ideas for the garden design of the period drew equally on philosophy, literature, painting and sculpture – and there were prolific circles in Germany, France as well as in England.Read More:

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