- Hardcover: 734 pages
- Publisher: Sagapress, Incorporated (January 1, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0898310318
- ISBN-13: 978-0898310313
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 2 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,558,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The English Flower Garden Hardcover – Illustrated, January 1, 1989
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The book is set in old style type and contains numerous black and white illustrations--etchings of photos and prints of sketches. Some of them are a bit grainy, but many are not, and even the grainy ones have their good points. The content of each photo is quite interesting, and the sketches provide the "personal" touch one seldom sees in text books these days.
In one print, taken at Gravetye Manor over 100 years ago, a climbing tea rose clings to a bamboo split-rail post fence surrounded by bush roses. The sunlight reflects from the walkway and warms the flowers and a huge clay pot sitting in a corner. In another photo, pots of 'Chimney Campanula' guard an old Jacobin chest sitting in a hall at Staunton Court. Sketches and photos are used to illustrate flowers all through the last half of the book--a flower dictionary with anectdotal and literary "blurbs" written by Robinson himself.
Mitchell says Robinson "for all practical purposes invented gardening as we know it." Robinson's garden, 'Gravetye Manor' is a hop, skip and a jump from Sissinghurst, but few know of it's existence. Yet, Robinson is the "grandfather" of Sissinghurst, because Gertrude Jekyll who helped Mrs. Nichols design Sissinghurst, was Robinson's disciple. She literally followed in his footsteps and emulated his style.
Robinson found most of the gardens of his day deplorable (19th Century Victorian). Those of the wealthy were modeled after the French and Italian formal plan, loaded with clipped Yews and bedded out every spring with ribbons of color provided by geraniums and marigolds. The walkways were lined with ornate scupture and surrounded by towering "imprisoned" evergreen shrubs and trees including clipped Yews which he loathed. He said these gardens reminded him of graveyards.
His ideal was the cottage garden. He considered the garden a sacred space. He said one had to visit the houses of the poor to find truly beautiful gardens. Henry Mitchell reflecting on this says, "The thing that separates the true gardener from the mere architect or designer (and there is something extremely suspicious in the airs they give themselves nowadays) is that the gardener stands in awe before his violets, while others think of them in terms of [sic] plant materials."
Robinson's ideas grew out of the Romantic movement of the late 18th and early 19th Century. His designs and thinking were reflected in the Arts and Crafts movement based on the importance of reconnecting to nature. His contemporaries in thinking were Ruskin, Morris, Stickly, Frank Lloyd Wright, and others we identify with this movement. If you're a Stickly, cantilevered, picturesque kind of person, you'll like this book.