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Historical Literature on English Gardening and Greenhouses

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Photo: Beacon Hill House
Johnston, Frances Benjamin. "Beacon Hill House," Arthur Curtiss James house, Beacon Hill Road, Newport, Rhode Island. Blue Garden, flower border. 1917. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This reference guide focuses primarily on gardening in the early eighteenth-century, prior to the rise of landscape gardening in England. From the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, England saw a rise in exotic plant specimens being imported from overseas, especially from British colonies. In order to cultivate these exotic species used to a warmer climate, gardeners developed greenhouses and other structures to protect them from the cold. Prior to the mid-eighteenth century, these structures varied tremendously in their approach and effectiveness. The sources in this guide give a glimpse into not only the gardening practices within England, but also provide context for England’s role within a global community of plant enthusiasts.


Reference Books


British and American Gardens in the Eighteenth Century: Eighteen Illustrated Essays on Garden History. Edited by Patrick Taylor. Williamsburg, Va.: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1984. 188 p. 
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/84004252
LC Call Number: SB457.54.B75 1984
LCCN: 84004252
This book contains eighteen essays from various authors about gardens during the eighteenth century in Britain and the United States. The essays address the ways that British and American plant enthusiasts interacted during a century of great political, social, and scientific change. Some of the gardening themes explored includes early classical influences, rural and extensive gardening, ferme ornée, personal and psychological elements, continental influences, botanical endeavors, and the evolution of the landscape garden.  

Campbell-Culver, Maggie. The Origin of Plants: The People and Plants that Have Shaped Britain's Garden History since the Year 1000.  London: Headline, 2001. 260 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/2002327517
LC Call Number: QK306.C329 2001
LCCN: 2002327517
This book investigates the ways that plants arrived in Britain, starting in 1000 and extending through the year 2000.  Campbell-Culver breaks that timespan into periods of introduction, giving a timeline of significant dates, a narrative history of the plants introduced, and a list of some of the major plants from the period. Many of these plants were introduced due to Britain’s colonial endeavors across the world.

Drayton, Richard Harry. Nature's Government: Science, Imperial Britain, and the 'Improvement' of the World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 346 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/99059158
LC Call Number: DA470.D73 2000
LCCN: 99059158
Using the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew as a main focus, this book seeks to tell the story of the British Empire and its relationship to science. Drayton describes the Renaissance gardens in which powerful British people and institutions sought to collect botanical specimens from around the world to recreate the world within botanical gardens. Social, political, and scientific changes in the Enlightenment and beyond impacted the way that these gardens were formed, as botanical specimens and knowledge became inextricably linked to demonstrations of power and politics. The book follows the history of Kew all the way up to the “climax of a scientific empire” around the turn of the twentieth century.

Elliott, Brent. Flora: An Illustrated History of the Garden Flower. Buffalo, N.Y.: Firefly Books, 2003. 335 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/2004299838
LC Call Number: QK98.15.E45 2003
LCCN: 2004299838
This book surveys the history of garden plants introduced to Europe from around the world. It is arranged geographically, with sections on plants from Europe, the Turkish Empire, Africa, the Americas, and Asia and Australia. Every section begins with an overview of the history of plant introductions from the region, and then lists particular plants, along with illustrations and a short history of each plant’s introduction and cultivation, naming particular individuals responsible for its import.

History of Garden Design: The Western Tradition from the Renaissance to the Present Day. Edited by Monique Mosser and Georges Teyssot. London, New York:Thames & Hudson, 2000. 543 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/99067034
LC Call Number: SB466.E9A7313 2000
LCCN: 99067034
This book contains a series of essays about garden design in Europe and the United States, starting in the Renaissance period. It combines both the theories behind changes in garden design, as well as the practical manifestations of these theories in gardens throughout the west. There are many illustrations and photographs to supplement the essays.


Photo: Hollyhock 1
Horydczak, Theodor. Flowers and plants. Hollyhock I Between 1920 and 1950. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/thc1995006536/PP/

Hobhouse, Penelope. Plants in Garden History. London: Pavilion Books, 1992. 336 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/94164474
LC Call Number: SB451.H63 1992
LCCN: 94164474
This heavily illustrated book provides a history of garden plants in a large scope, arranged both chronologically and thematically. It traces the biggest themes in gardening, starting with the origins of gardening in the west and going to the twentieth century. It focuses mainly on the plants grown in gardens, rather than imported exotics grown indoors.

Jennings, Anne. Georgian Gardens. London: English Heritage, 2005. 89 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/2005279598
LC Call Number: SB457.68.J46 2005
LCCN: 2005279598
This book provides an overview of the major design themes and influential figures of English gardening in the Georgian period, from 1715 to 1837. This time period saw a gradual shift away from previous formal gardening styles in favor of what would become known as the landscape garden. Theorists debated the role of gardens and their status as sublime, picturesque, and gardenesque.  Also, more plant specimens continued to be introduced from other continents, which impacted garden design and techniques.

Jennings, Anne. Tudor and Stuart Gardens. London: English Heritage, 2005. 106 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/2006275086
LC Call Number: SB451.36.G7 J46 2005
LCCN: 2006275086
This book provides an overview of the major design themes and influential figures of English gardening in the Tudor and Stuart years in the 16th and 17th centuries. Jennings provides historical context alongside advice for recreating gardens of a similar style today. In this time period Britain was influenced by Italian, French, and Dutch styles. Gardening was also impacted by the import of seeds and specimens from other parts of the globe.

Laird, Mark. A Natural History of English Gardening, 1650-1800. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 440 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/2014041603
LC Call Number: SB457.6.L35 2015
LCCN: 2014041603
This book tells six stories about English gardens from a natural history and climate studies angle. The topics explored include the role of women and amateurs in gardening and natural history and the divide in sensibilities about those topics between 1650 and 1800.

The Oxford Companion to the Garden. Edited by Patrick Taylor. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 554 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/2006001269
LC Call Number: SB450.95.O94 2006
LCCN: 2006001269
This reference guide contains short entries about a wide variety of gardening topics, spanning various countries throughout the world, the history and the present, and a multitude of different types of gardens. Some of these topics include: garden designers, the history of gardening, influential ideas about gardening, scientific developments, and groups of garden plants, aesthetics, plant nomenclature, conservation, and restoration.

Turner, Tom. Garden History: Philosophy and Design, 2000 BC--2000 AD. London, New York: Spon Press, 2005. 294 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/2004000896
LC Call Number: SB451.T87 2005
LCCN: 2004000896
This book studies changes in garden philosophy and design over a very large timeframe, 2000 BC to 2000 AD. It starts with an overview of the time period and the main philosophical perspectives on gardening throughout the ages. It then divides the history into nine periods, and describes the social, geographical, philosophical, and artistic background of each. Turner then gives examples of gardens for each period, along with illustrations of garden design plans.


Photo: Flowers at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona
Highsmith, Carol M. “Flowers at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona.” Between 1980 and 2006. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2011634320/
Greenhouses, Orangeries, Hothouses

Boniface, Priscilla. The Garden Room. London: Royal Commission in Historical Monuments England, 1982. 70 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/82202159
LC Call Number: NA8360.B66 1982
LCCN: 82202159
This book consists of a short introduction to the history of garden rooms followed by images and short descriptions of various garden rooms throughout England. The introduction tells of the precursors to conservatories (hothouses and orangeries) but the bulk of the introduction and the images are of conservatories constructed in the nineteenth century. There is also a short section about the downfall of the popularity of conservatories in the twentieth century.

Grant, Fiona. Glasshouses. Oxford, Long Island City: Shire Publications, 2013. 72 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/2012464662
LC Call Number: SB415.6.G7G73 2013
LCCN: 2012464662
This book traces the history of glasshouses, from their origins as orangeries, to their mass-production in the nineteenth century, to their modern-day restoration. It includes many helpful lithographs and photographs, as well as a list of historical glasshouse manufacturers and places to visit glasshouses today.

Kassinger, Ruth. Paradise Under Glass: An Amateur Creates a Conservatory Garden. New York: William Morrow, 2010. 347 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/2009045875
LC Call Number: NA8360.K375 2010
LCCN: 2009045875
This book is both a narrative of the author’s journey to create a conservatory in her home and a historical account of the history of greenhouses. Kassinger includes information about the emergence of orangeries and how they evolved into permanent structures suitable both for growing exotic specimens and for entertainment.

Koppelkamm, Stefan. Translated by Kathrine Talbot. Glasshouses and Wintergardens of the Nineteenth Century. New York: Rizzoli, 1981. 111 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/81051102
LC Call Number: NA8360 .K6613 1981
LCCN: 81051102
The first half of this book is an essay tracing the origins and evolution of glasshouses and wintergardens, primarily focusing on the nineteenth century. The second half of the book contains images and descriptions of nineteenth century glasshouses and wintergardens in Europe. It also contains a list of definitions to help differentiate between terms such as “orangery,” “glasshouse,” and “wintergarden.”

Saudan-Skira, Sylvia, and Michel Saudan. Translated by Alayne Pullen in association with First Edition Translations Ltd. Orangeries: Palaces of Glass - Their History and Development. Köln: Evergreen, 1998. 215 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/98173781
LC Call Number: NA8360.S2813 1998
LCCN: 98173781
This book traces the history of orangeries and greenhouses starting with their precursors during the Renaissance. Starting as ways to keep citrus trees living all year long, orangeries evolved to become integral parts of estates all over Europe. Orangeries were important to the cultivation of exotic plants imported from around the world during the days of colonial empires. They also became architectural feats in their own right, used for display and recreation, in addition to protecting tender exotic plants from the cold. This book tells the story of this evolution, with details about particular innovators and gardens, with accompanying photographs and illustrations.

Woods, May, and Arete Swartz Warren. Glass Houses: A History of Greenhouses, Orangeries and Conservatories. New York: Rizzoli, 1988. 216 p.
LCCN Permalink: https://lccn.loc.gov/87032048
LC Call Number: NA4140.W66 1988
LCCN: 87032048
This book traces the history of glasshouses, from an architectural, botanical, and social perspective. Filled with many images, this book starts in ancient Rome and traces the history through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly in England and the United States







Photo: The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California
Highsmith, Carol. “The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California.” 2012. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2013630189/

Compiled by: Madison Arnold-Scerbo & Tomoko Y. Steen, Ph.D., October 18, 2017

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