The English Garden

The English garden is admired around the world and anybody who wishes to gain an insight and understanding of these gardens will be well served by reading this updated edition of Ursula Buchan’s, The English Garden. It is possibly the most comprehensive, yet concise, treatment of the topic that I have read.

Perhaps the defining characteristic of the English garden is the urge to grow flowers and that most English approach to the garden of formal bones with exuberant planting but there are many other aspects and these are explored here in a thematic approach. There are chapters on The Landscape Tradition, The Country Garden, Gardening with Nature, Influences from Abroad with further chapters dealing with ornament, water, roses, the kitchen garden and the contemporary garden.


The theme of each chapter is illustrated through the selection of a small number of gardens which are discussed in some depth with notes on history, development, owners, plants and all that would be of interest to the enthusiastic garden visitor. Each chapter concludes with a list of gardens which fit into the same theme so the reader might locate similar gardens around the country.

The original edition, in 2006, was a coffee-table book, but this is more compact and more comfortable in the hand perhaps emphasising that it is for reading rather than simply one of beautiful photographs. Ursula Buchan writes well, in an informed, informative, entertaining and pleasantly readable manner – though, it must be stated, that the beautiful photography of Andrew Lawson continues to make a significant contribution to the overall enjoyment of the reader.

An excellent book!

[The English Garden, Ursula Buchan, photographs by Andrew Lawson, Frances Lincoln, London, 2017, Hardback, 320 pages, £25, ISBN:  978-0-7112-3916-6]

A note: two words from the book, one which put a name to a garden feature I had seen in the Villa Melzi on Lake Como and the other a new word for me: “Praeneste” and “Catenary”…………………I’ll leave it to you to puzzle them out!