Welcome to The Garden History Podcast

An introduction to the plants, places and people that you can find within the subject of Garden History presented in alphabetical order with a short podcast devoted to each letter.

The idea for this podcast came after I started an A-Z of garden History on my Twitter feed which you can find at @AdvollyR. This will give you a sneak preview of what I will be covering but for the podcast I have changed some of the letters to give you a wider choice of terms.

But first of all what is garden history? You could say that Garden history is the study of the development of gardens and gardening in response to social and economic changes over the centuries. These changes were often influenced by key factors such as politics, religion, wealth, status, travel and even conflict. More importantly the study of garden history helps us to understand and therefore value our historic designed gardens and landscapes which include public parks, allotments and cemeteries. So throughout the episodes I am hoping that you will find something that will intrigue, inspire and encourage you to take a look into this wonderfully diverse subject.

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L 
American Gardens

for American Gardens

During the 18th century North America's indigenous plants were more freely available to British gardeners. The new arrivals became very popular leading to the creation of "American Gardens" within larger estates.


for Bastion.

Throughout the long history of gardens there have always been innovators who tended to do their own thing just because they could. Well during the 18th century there was a flurry of military inspired symbolism both in architecture and garden design.

Picture credits: Dr. William Stukeley, The Duchess’s Bastion in Grimsthorpe Gardens (1736), Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Father Thames in Coade Stone

for Coade Stone.

Of course no historic garden or landscape is complete without a bust, statue or an urn, and so I would like to introduce you to Mrs Eleanor Coade (1733 – 1821) one of the very few women acknowledged for her contribution to 18th and early 19th century garden history.


Derby Arboretum

for Derby Arboretum.

In the mid 19th century early public parks reflected the great Victorian interest in the study of all aspects of the natural world. One of the earliest public parks was the Derby Arboretum which was created for a city that had been expanding rapidly as a result of industrialization.

Derby Arboretum

for Elvaston Castle.

Emotions have always played a part in the creation and appreciation of gardens and love was the overriding emotion when the Earl of Harrington commissioned the gardens at his country seat at Elvaston Castle, Derbyshire.

Image credits:
Petersham :
Maria Foote:
Mon Plaisir: (Richard Keene c.1859)

Thomas Fairchild

for Thomas Fairchild.

Today, hybridisation is a common and important method of developing plants with new features. Thomas Fairchild was the first person to achieve this at his nursery near London. However the beliefs prevalent at the time suppressed this new discovery and left Thomas in fear for his soul.

Image credits:
Thomas Fairchild : Wikipedia - Art UK, Public Domain
Fairchilds Mule : Oxford Herbaria

Claude Monet at Giverney

for Giverny.

Gardens have always inspired artists and their paintings contribute much to the research and understanding of different periods in Garden History, indeed the act of creating a garden has been compared to creating a work of art. Claude Monet's garden at Giverny was created from scratch by the artist as a gardener, and became his favourite subject as a painter.

Image credits:
Photograph: GettyImages-530856444-1024x781
Painting : Wikipedia

Illustration of a Hermitage

for Hermitage.

In the 18th century, any landscape of note was not complete without a collection of garden buildings and other eclectic features. However a rather eccentric but short lived trend during this time resulted in the frequent appearance of the ornamental hermitage. These artificially unkempt dwellings were often concealed in woodland within the landscape. This remoteness ensured a lively response from any visitor who happened upon it especially if there was a real hermit in residence.

Image credits:
Painshill Hermitage drawing by Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell: The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome, Gordon Campbell
John Milton :

Illustration of an Icehouse

for Icehouse.

From the early seventeenth century icehouses were built in increasing numbers on country estates in order to enable extended storage of perishable food and provide the novelty of chilled refreshment. By the middle of the 19th century most estates could boast one. Some were built plainly, often below ground, but some reached the status of follies with elaborate designs and features.

Image credits:
Italian icehouse design drawn to a description by John Evelyn: From "Icehouses" by Tim Buxbaum pub. Shire Books ISBN 978-0-7478-0150-4
Illustration from Rural Residences (...)by John B Papworth : (Original from Getty Research Institute)

Portrait of the Empress Josephine

for Josephine.

The Empress Josephine has often been portrayed as a needy socialite famed for her lavish entertainments with many stories being repeated about her salacious exploits. So it may come as a surprise to many that Josephine was a very accomplished plantswoman, gardener and keen botanist who played a key role in the collection and introduction of many new plants into France which she cultivated at her gardens at the Chateau Malmaison near Paris.

Image credits:
Portrait of the Empress Josephine: Illustration of chateau Malmaison:

The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel New York

for Kentia Palm.

In recent years there has been a huge surge in the interest and demand for indoor plants including Howea forsteriana the houseplant better known as the Kentia palm. First recorded in 1869 on the tiny Lord Howe Island in the Pacific the Kentia palm soon made its way into fashionable Victorian parlours, drawing rooms and ballrooms. This is the story of a plant that found fame across the world but has remained true to its native Island home.

Image credits:
Palm Court BW: Kentia Palm Man
Price List:
Palm Court in Colour: New York Plaza Hotel

Plaque welcoming visitors to the Villa Cetinale

for Lex Hortorum.

We all love to visit private gardens of all shapes and sizes. In many cases we have to pay to enter whether it is for a charitable cause or purely for the benefit of topping up the owners coffers. So it may come as a surprise to find, that some of the most iconic private Italian renaissance gardens were free and public spaces right from the outset, and this unfettered access was guaranteed by the concept of the Lex hortorum or the law of gardens.

Image credits:
Plaque at the Villa Cetinale from Italian Gardens by Helena Attlee pub. Frances Lincoln

Photograph of the Gardens at Villa Cetinale Wikipedia