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Great British Gardeners: From the Early Plantsmen to Chelsea Medal Winners

Great British Gardeners: From the Early Plantsmen to Chelsea Medal Winners

by Vanessa Berridge
Great British Gardeners: From the Early Plantsmen to Chelsea Medal Winners

Great British Gardeners: From the Early Plantsmen to Chelsea Medal Winners

by Vanessa Berridge


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The British have always been a nation of gardeners. Their gardening history began even before the Romans, who brought Mediterranean plants which still flourish across Britain. Gardening grew 16th century and a distinctively British style became a major export in the 18th century. Today, the annual Chelsea Flower Show is an international festival, and British garden designers are in demand all over the world. This book traces the history of British gardening over 450 years through the stories of 26 key figures, showing what drove them, and their role in the evolution of Britain’s gardens. Their work reveals changes in taste and society down the centuries. Familiar names are featured, such as "Capability" Brown, Humphry Repton, Gertrude Jekyll, Vita Sackville-West and Christopher Lloyd, together with less generally known figures such as John Gerard, whose Herballof 1597 inspired generations of plantsmen, the Tradescants, pioneer plant hunters, and J. C. Loudon, 19th-century champion of smaller gardens. In the present day, we meet Beth Chatto, advocate of the right plant in the right place, and John Brookes, who did for gardening what Elizabeth David did for cooking. Their achievements provide a colorful history and inspiration to every gardening enthusiast.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781398103313
Publisher: Amberley Publishing
Publication date: 05/15/2021
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Vanessa Berridge is the author of The Princess’s Garden: Royal Intrigue and the Untold Story of Kew. Formerly the launch editor of The English Garden magazine, she now writes widely on gardens for magazines and newspapers. 

Table of Contents

Introduction 9

Part 1 The Early Plantsmen

Chapter 1 John Gerard (1545-1612) - Barber-surgeon, gardener, herbalist and rogue 14

Chapter 2 The Tradescants - Royal Gardeners, planthunters, nurserymen and antiquarians 23

John Tradescant the Elder (c.1570-1638)

John Tradescant the Younger (1608-1662)

Part II A Growing Concern

Chapter 3 George London (d.1714) and Henry Wise (1653-1738) - Royal gardeners and nurserymen 36

Chapter 4 Thomas Fairchild (1667-1729) - Nurseryman, early hybridiser and author of The City Gardener 45

Chapter 5 Philip Miller (1691-1771) - Gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden and author of the Gardeners Dictionary 54

Part III The Great Designers

Chapter 6 Charles Bridgeman (d.1738) - Transitional designer between formality and informality; gardener to royalty, and aristocracy 66

Chapter 7 William Kent (1685-1748) - Mercurial genius who dominated English design in the early eighteenth century 75

Chapter 8 'Capability' Lancelot Brown (1716-1783) - Landscape gardener par excellence 85

Chapter 9 Humphry Repton (1752-1818) - Would-be inheritor of Brown's mantle and creator of the Red Books 98

Part IV The Industrial Age

Chapter 10 John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843) - Garden designer, journalist, author, educator and populariser of gardening 110

Chapter 11 William Andrews Nesfield (1794-1881) - Army engineer, water colourist and high Victorian garden designer 122

Chapter 12 Sir Joseph Paxton (1803-1865) - Head gardener at Chatsworth and visionary designer of Crystal Palace 132

Part V The Flower Garden

Chapter 13 William Robinson (1838-1935) - Father of the English flower garden 146

Chapter 14 Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) - Artist, craftswoman and gardener 157

Chapter 15 Lawrence Johnston (1871-1958) - Creator of Hidcote Manor garden 169

Chapter 16 Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) - Novelist, poet, columnist and creator of Sissinghurst 180

Chapter 17 Margery Fish (1892-1969) - Re-inventor of the English cottage garden 192

Part VI Classical and Modern

Chapter 18 Russell Page (1906-1985) - Master of modern formality and author of The Education of a Gardener 204

Chapter 19 Rosemary Verey (1918-2001) - New traditionalist and exporter of English romanticism to America 214

Chapter 20 Penelope Hobhouse (1929-) - Writer, international garden designer and National Trust chatelaine 224

Chapter 21 John Brookes (1933-2018) - The man who made the modern garden 234

Part VII The Later Plantsmen

Chapter 22 Christopher Lloyd (1921-2006) - Mastermind of the legendary flower garden at Great Dixter 244

Chapter 23 Beth Chatto (1923-2018) - Advocate of the right plant for the right place 254

Chapter 24 Tom Stuart-Smith (1960-) - Multiple Chelsea gold medal winning designer of modern, sustainable gardens 264

Notes 273

Bibliography 301

Acknowledgements 312

Index 314

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