landscape gardening

views updated May 18 2018

landscape gardening. The 18th-cent. English landscape garden or park was a major, and highly influential, contribution to European art. It replaced the earlier fashion for highly formal gardens (most of which were destroyed during this period) as adjuncts to country houses and ultimately presented an effect of natural, rolling grassland coming right up to the house, with distant clumps of trees; so much so, in fact, that the architect Sir William Chambers found the landscapes of the celebrated Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716–83) to ‘differ very little from common fields, so closely is common nature copied in most of them’.

Among Brown's numerous works were the landscapes at Alnwick castle, Northumberland (c.1760), Blenheim palace, Oxfordshire (1763), Bowood, Wiltshire (c.1761–6), Holkham Hall, Norfolk (1762), Kew Gardens and Richmond Park, London (from 1764), and Prior Park, near Bath (c.1764). The naturalness and expansiveness of such landscapes undoubtedly encouraged a sense of surveillance and possession in the minds of their aristocratic owners, although they were also held to demonstrate the spirit of British libertarianism. Certainly they were associated with the general trend towards enlarging estates through the enclosure of common land; sometimes whole villages were moved to create the desired effect, as at Kedleston (Derbys.) or Milton Abbas (Dorset).

Pioneers of the new taste in gardening, favoured by the poet Alexander Pope, were Stephen Switzer (1682–1745), Charles Bridgeman (fl. 1709–38), the latter credited with the invention of the ‘ha-ha’, a hidden ditch which halted the movement of animals without interrupting the view, and William Kent (1685–1748). Their landscape gardens were more intricate and contrived, with wooded areas, glades, temples, and monuments. At Rousham in Oxfordshire, William Kent, from 1738, modified the original garden plan by Bridgeman of c.1715–20, adding cascades, ponds, walks, statues, and a pyramid. ( Brown emphasized aquatic features but made little use of architectural elements.) Kent also designed the gardens at Chiswick House, Middlesex (c.1727–36). Such schemes often had complex, symbolic ‘programmes’ based on literary or political allusion, as at Stowe (Bucks.). The extensive gardens there were laid out mainly from 1713 by Viscount Cobham and his successor Earl Temple. Again, the scheme was initiated by Bridgeman and developed by Kent (mainly 1730s); a process of simplification and enlargement was begun by Brown, c.1749.

The final phase of the English landscape garden began late in the century, Picturesque theorists having rejected what they saw as the repetitive, over-formulaic approach of Brown. Thus Humphry Repton (1752–1818) adopted a more complex and varied approach, involving the effect of ‘accidents’ of nature and a more organic relationship between buildings and landscape.

T. E. Faulkner

landscape gardening

views updated Jun 11 2018

landscape gardening Arranging gardens to produce certain effects. Broadly, there are two main traditions: the Sino-English, with its retention of the informality of nature; and the Franco-Italian, with its geometric patterns in which nature is trimmed to art. The second tradition arose in Italy during the Renaissance. It is best exemplified in the parterres of Versailles, designed by André Le Nôtre. In England, the naturalist style developed in the 18th century, with the work of William Kent, ‘Capability’ Brown, and Humphrey Repton.

landscape gardening

views updated May 21 2018

land·scape gar·den·ing • n. the art and practice of laying out grounds in a way that is ornamental or that imitates natural scenery.DERIVATIVES: land·scape gar·den·er n.