The English Garden: A Social HistoryWhile the gardens of the rich have always been impressive symbols of social and economic success, the gardens of the poor began as a basic means of survival. This survey spans the last 500 years, showing how gardens have altered across the generations in direct response to changes in society.
by Charles Quest-Ritson
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The English Garden: A Social History Summary
Gardening is all about lifestyles, money and class. Among the rich, gardens are symbols of social and economic success; among the poor, they are an aid to survival. Most commentators have concentrated on the development of garden styles and fashions, but no history can properly be told without reference to the social and economic conditions which accompanied it. Charles Quest-Ritson sets out to put gardening in its context. He shows how gardens have altered through the generations in direct response to changes in English society itself and he explains the social and financial reasons why gardening evolved as it did. Why do certain plants become fashionable? How much did Humphrey Repton charge for his landscaping? From which surprising benefactor did Vita Sackville-West get the money to create Sissinghurst? Which fruit was the ultimate status symbol in Restoration society? Why is Gerard's Herbal "a fanciful and useless book"? What was life really like in the Victorian gardener's bothy? What is the connection between Capability Brown and 18th-century field sports? When was the first lifestyle gardening magazine published? Why were all the best Edwardian gardens made by "nouveaux riches"? These are some of the questions which this book sets out to answer in a wide-ranging and highly readable account of English gardens through the ages. Chapter by chapter, from 1500 to the present day, Charles Quest-Ritson asks what owners sought from their gardens. Why did people garden? What did they get out of it? Were gardens for food, flowers or recreation? What was fashionable, and why? What was the impact of science and technological innovation? How were plants acquired, propagated and distributed? Who were the gardening experts? What did it all cost? What were gardens for? Central to his narrative is an analysis of how gardens and gardening have been perceived through the centuries and how they matched the changing needs and aspirations of garden-owners, rich and poor.
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The English Garden: A Social History
Penguin Books Ltd
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