The Making of the English Gardener


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Plants, Books and Inspiration, 1560-1660

Margaret Willes

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The people and publications at the root of a national obsession

In the century between the accession of Elizabeth I and the restoration of Charles II, a horticultural revolution took place in England, making it a leading player in the European horticultural game. Ideas were exchanged across networks of gardeners, botanists, scholars, and courtiers, and the burgeoning vernacular book trade spread this new knowledge still further—reaching even the growing number of gardeners furnishing their more modest plots across the verdant nation and its young colonies in the Americas.

Margaret Willes introduces a plethora of garden enthusiasts, from the renowned to the legions of anonymous workers who created and tended the great estates. Packed with illustrations from the herbals, design treatises, and practical manuals that inspired these men—and occasionally women—Willes's book enthrallingly charts how England's garden grew.

Margaret Willes, the former Publisher for the National Trust, has written and illustrated numerous books. She lives in London.

“Willes, who was a publisher for the National Trust, is a true bibliophile who has undertaken an ambitious piece of research that will be invaluable to students of gardens and their history.”—Rosie Atkins, History Today

“…..all can enjoy the illuminating way Willes puts gardens into context.”—Gardens Illustrated

“Avoid the glut of picture books that blossom at this time of year for this serious study of the social life of the English garden. It will fascinate serious horticulturalists with its explanation of the how the country had already undergone a radical revolution in gardening before the 18th century, which so many thought was its heyday.”—Country and Town House Magazine

“… erudite study of Tudor and Stuart Gardens. This is more than just Ye Olde Gardener’s World – Willes’s book is a subtle study of a world in which exotic tastes and information were spreading worldwide, and a new age of scientific study was dawning.”—Dan Jones, The Daily Telegraph (Christmas Books History Round Up)

“The sheer handling of a mass of material and making it readable would have been recommendation enough for this book. But it is so much more – a revelation, a delight, and a work that no one who has made a garden can be without.”—Ronald Blythe, The Church Times (Christmas Books)

“It is impossible, in a brief review, to do justice to a book so packed with information, but the author’s enthusiasm for her subject, the people from all walks of life who she so vividly evokes, the books and gardens she describes, make this as enjoyable to read as it is invaluable for reference. “—Anne Carter, Trafodion – Occasional Writings for the Welsh Gardens Trust Issue 1

“The most successful of the year’s garden history books is Margaret Willes’s The Making of the English Gardener: Plants, Books and Inspiration 1550…..She deserves a good readership both in and outside England.”—Robin Lane Fox, Financial Times (Garden Books of the Year)

“A heady, brilliant period, well documented by Margaret Willes’s The Making of the English Gardener….Willes is particularly well informed on the books that fed the new obsession and the libraries put together by early English botanists….[An] excellent study.”—Anna Pavord, The Independent Magazine (Garden Books of the Year)

“….Winter evenings were made for books like this.”—Rachel De Thame, The Sunday Times (Home)
“An erudite study of Tudor and Stuart gardens and a subtle account of a time in which exotic tastes were spreading worldwide and a new age of scientific thought was dawning.”—The Sunday Telegraph
ISBN: 9780300197266
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
312 pages, 5 x 7 3/4
80 b/w +24 pp. color illus.
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