Inventing the GardenBook - 2010
The authors trace the evolution of the Western garden from the first plots cultivated for pleasure in the Middle East to today’s diverse green spaces that challenge traditional ideas about what constitutes a garden. They examine the changing attitude toward nature—as something to be dominated or embraced, ordered or allowed to range freely, exploited or conserved.
Examples of the highly prescribed hortus conclusus or enclosed spaces of the Middle Ages are found in the Italian Renaissance gardens and the symmetries of Versailles and Les Tuileries. After the rise of Romanticism in the late eighteenth century, English gardeners such as William Kent and “Capability” Brown embraced the concept that nature should prevail over man’s manipulation of it and created gardens that broke through traditional enclosures. A century later, while the American West witnessed both the conquering spirit of the homesteaders and the first stirrings of the conservation movement, urban parks and gardens were created as oases to which all people had access.
The book concludes with a look at contemporary gardens, where efforts to reclaim landscapes and repurpose crumbling infrastructure are taking place within an atmosphere of ecological sensitivity—appreciating the idea that the whole planet is a garden and all who live in it are gardeners.