Gardens and Gardening in Early Modern England and Wales 1560–1660 by Jill Francis - review by Tim Richardson

Tim Richardson

A Ffashion for Fflowers

Gardens and Gardening in Early Modern England and Wales 1560–1660

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Yale University Press 400pp £35 order from our bookshop
 

This book about Tudor and Stuart gardens is overlong and under-edited, but it contains a great deal of interest, including some fresh research (though not quite as much as the author repeatedly claims). The main new source is the garden notebook of Sir John Oglander, who inherited Nunwell on the Isle of Wight in 1609. Oglander is precisely the kind of person the author wishes to focus on, since the aim of this study is to look beyond ‘the well-researched but unrepresentative and extravagant showpieces of the nobility into the more ordinary gardens of the rural county gentry’.

Oglander’s garden notebook turns out to be a treasure-trove of useful information about 17th-century gardening practices. It is emblematic of the book’s central thesis, which is hardly original but still persuasive: that gardens of this period remained essentially productive in character, as they always had been, but with an increased

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