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UK Garden Tours

The sheer breadth of British garden history makes horticulture a fascinating lens through which to consider British history in general, tracing as it so perfectly does, shifts in religious, political, moral and social attitudes through the ages. On the global stage, the English Garden remains the quintessential summation of our projected culture, conjuring images of sweeping lawns, rose-tangled cottages and grand country estates. It was the Romans who introduced gardens to Britain, building lavish residential palaces with formerly planted gardens. The practice was widely adopted throughout the Middle Ages on varying scales, from vast castle gardens to bountiful monastery gardens and humble peasant gardens, firmly establishing a culture of gardening across Britain. The intricate formal gardens of the 16th and 17th centuries were once more heavily influenced by continental trends, but it was the 18th century that would see Britain lead its own stylistic revolution, swinging towards a more ‘natural’ look that would eventually evolve into the ‘landscape garden’, as championed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, arguably the most famous landscape gardener in English history. Britain’s many intrepid plant hunters have also left an indelible mark on British horticulture that cannot be overlooked and, although plants were being introduced to Britain from the Roman times onwards, it was the surge in international botany collection that began in the 17th century and met its apex in the Victorian era, that brought our shores into full bloom. Subsequent periods have often expressed a balance between the formal and the natural to exquisite effect, as well as a heightened refinement of the stylistic union between house and garden that has kept Britain at the forefront of contemporary garden design. The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner considered the landscape garden to be Britain’s greatest contribution to the visual arts and our varied selection of British garden tours will explore the many ways in which this is true.
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