PICTURING PARADISE: STUDIES IN EIGHTEENTH TO TWENTIETH-CENTURY GARDENS AND GARDEN DESIGN

(Cambridge Studies in Garden History Occasional Paper:  Volume 1)
Edited by Dr. Twigs Way

ISBN  0 9533 6864 5 (2003)

Price £6.90 plus 50p postage

This new series of Occasional Papers makes studies produced by extra-mural Garden History students available to fellow researchers and enthusiasts in garden history.

Although the seven papers concentrate on the 18th to 20th centuries, the subject matters and approaches are varied.  Four concern individual sites, but have wider significance.  Because of Heligan, I was particularly interested to read about early 19th-century pineapple growing, as demonstrated by the rare and important survival of Penpoint Pinery in Breconshire.  We are shown how the original typical Victorian design of the gardens of The Great Northern Hotel in Peterborough – sounding familiar, with its kitchen garden and pleasure grounds – has been adapted to changing needs, fashions and the growing town.  At the Cambridgeshire Pauper Lunatic Asylum, the landscaper Davidson designed a garden in the late 1850s that still excites interest today. The description of a small front garden in Cambridge incorporates 19th- century theories of garden design.

Widening the scope, a paper considers how the arts influenced garden design in the late 18th century and how gardens gave visual form to philosophical and political ideas.  Another is about the influence of China – both the idea and the reality –  on European garden design.  The final article refers to the influence of the 18th-century landscape gardeners, and William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll on later ecologically friendly wildlife gardens.

I am no academic but I found these papers absorbing to read, though I think they may not be ‘in depth’ enough for some Trust members.  With photographs, maps and sketch plans, references, and bibliographies – this A4 booklet contains much of interest and is certainly value for money.

Shirley Barnes