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English gardens - A review

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In the mid-seventeenth century, British writers wrote literary works like 'Paradise Lost' (written by John Milton, philosopher), which develops thoughts admiring the charms of nature. Writers like Alexander Pope and Joseph Addison embodied the English spirit of the era that was never fully satisfied with the French style. That's where the birth of the English style of gardens took place. These ideas have made their way through the years, and they are mostly propagated by painters and artists who devised them. In 1715, Stephen Switzer published a book on the practical realization of this new natural style: 'Gardener's Recreation'.

Charles Bridgeman was the first to make parks design-free, leaving the plants in their natural state. The major achievements were Stowe Claremount, Blenheim Palace and the Rousham House. Then there was William Kent (1685-1748), a design teacher, who successfully reproduced beautiful scenery fired by the desire to imitate nature. His ideas were sometimes in excess, such as planting dead trees to make them look like natural gardens. His main creation was the Stowe park in 1730 where he continued the work of Bridgeman, but by including replicas of Greek and Roman temples. He is still regarded as the inventor of English gardens since these gardens have provided the basis for all those that followed.

In this period of the early seventeenth century, these ideas spread to Western Europe. At Versailles, Louis XIV took Charles Dufresne's example of this new style and two projects were presented to the king. These projects were rejected because they were considered to be too eccentric for the time. Others like Lancelot Brown (1716 - 1783) created 170 parks, many of which still exist today. His style is characterized by very large hilly fields, irregularly shaped lakes and many groves. Brown was a student of Kent, so he worked with what he had learned from his mentor but displayed the English style at its peak with more modern ideas.

He resumed Kent's work in 1741 in Stowe, a place that expressed the highest enthusiasm of English nature. His new ideas for innovation earned him much criticism, but Brown was still much admired in the world of landscapes. In the middle of the eighteenth century, many people who specialized in landscapes were seen as the new century artists in England after Brown. Thomas Repton Wathely wrote a book on landscaped gardens, 'Observation on Modern Gardening'.

Tags: Stowe Claremount, Blenheim Palace , Rousham House, English gardens

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