The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession by Andrea Wulf - review by Tim Richardson

Tim Richardson

Happy Horticulturalists

The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession


William Heinemann 356pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Ever since Sir Nikolaus Pevsner suggested, in the Architectural Review in 1944, that the eighteenth-century landscape garden was Britain's greatest contribution to the visual arts of the West – with the possible exception of Perpendicular Gothic architecture – the gates to the garden have been ajar to scholars from the disciplines of art and architectural history. This has been greatly to the benefit of garden history as a subject in its own right, even if most art historians have tended to confine themselves to a few key gardens, such as Stowe and Stourhead.

Literary historians have also made useful forays into the shrubberies, temples and grottoes, decoding the double lives of garden-obsessed poets such as Alexander Pope and William Shenstone. Recently, the political motivations behind the development of the landscape garden have been explored, with the suggestion that both Whigs and Tories were

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