The English Landscape Garden

BookThe English Landscape Garden

The English Landscape Garden

A survey

Historic England


April 15th, 2019





The 18th-century phenomenon of the English Landscape Garden was so widespread that even today, when so much has been built over or otherwise changed, one is never far from an example throughout England.

Although seemingly natural, the English Landscape Garden was generally the result of considerable contrivance, effort and design skill, the result of ‘the art that conceals art’. It might involve digging lakes, raising or levelling hills, and planting trees, sometimes in vast numbers. Nature was arranged and shown to best advantage. The English landscape garden took many forms, and the variety of manifestations was and remains remarkable. A great number survive, if sometimes in modified form, and can be visited and appreciated.

The book is structured so as to give the background to, and motivation for, creating the landscape garden; to summarise the chronology of its development; to chart the most significant writers and theorists; and to consider the range of the many forms it took.

The story of the landscape garden is complex, multi-layered and constantly changing in emphasis for such an apparently simple and straightforward construct. This book will help to uncover some of the richness that lies behind a meaningful part of the environment.

The book can be regarded as a companion to the volume already published by Historic England, The English Landscape Garden in Europe.

'An authority on the 18th-century garden, the author clearly sees both trees and woods—and, indeed, the whole purview of how and why English gardens assumed such a central role in the Enlightenment—making his latest work an excellent introduction to the subject.’
Tiffany Daneff, Country Life

Author Information

Michael Symes is an author, lecturer and garden historian. He specialises in 18th-century gardens in Britain and continental Europe.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
1. The 18th century and the landscape garden
2. The evolution of the landscape garden
3. Theorists and writers
4. Extensive, rural or forest gardening
5. The ‘artinatural’ garden
6. Garden iconography
7. William Kent and the pictorial garden
8. The poetic or literary garden
9. The mid-century circuit garden
10. Plantings
11. The ferme ornée
12. The terrace walk
13. ‘Capability’ Brown and the Brownians
14. The Picturesque and Sublime
15. Repton and a new direction
16. Legacy