At least since the seventeenth century, most of the English population have been unable to stop making, improving and dreaming of gardens. Yet in all the thousands of books about them, this is the first to address seriously the question of how much gardens and gardening have cost, and to work out the place of gardens in the economic, as well as the horticultural, life of the nation. It is a new kind of gardening history.
Beginning with the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, Roderick Floud describes the role of the monarchy and central and local government in creating gardens, as well as that of the (generally aristocratic or plutocratic) builders of the great gardens of Stuart, Georgian and Victorian England. He considers the designers of these gardens as both artists and businessmen - often earning enormous sums by modern standards, matched by the nurserymen and plant collectors who supplied their plants. He uncovers the lives and rewards of working gardeners, the domestic gardens that came with the growth of suburbs and the impact of gardening on technical developments from man-made lakes to central heating.
AN ECONOMIC HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH GARDEN shows the extraordinary commitment of money as well as time that the English have made to gardens and gardening over three and a half centuries. It reveals the connections of our gardens to the re-establishment of the English monarchy, the national debt, transport during the Industrial Revolution, the new industries of steam, glass and iron, and the built environment that is now all around us. It is a fresh perspective on the history of England and will open the eyes of gardeners - and garden visitors - to an unexpected dimension of what they do.
A fascinating history of gardening reveals our expensive passion for all things green... This is the first economic history of the English garden and frankly it's almost shocking that no one has looked into it until now... There is a mind-boggling amount of detail in this book ... Floud is a clear writer and excels at providing context and keeping the whole enterprise grounded.
We have social histories of the English garden, art histories of the big ones and plant histories of what went where. We seldom have a financial history. Floud has set out to write one, applying his head for statistics to this under-cultivated field... an invaluable checklist ... Floud's bigger point is that gardening is and has been a big element of the total economy. ... Amazing. Floud casts his net wide.
This is a very different kind of gardening book. It's not about design or horticultural techniques, but is a history, - the first of its kind, the author claims - of the economics of gardening, financial excess and all, from Charles II to today ... extraordinarily interesting. Floud impresses on us the sheer scale of what we're dealing with here... his book is full of fascinating detail - about everything from working-class gardens, kitchen gardens and nurseries, to the astonishing cost of some rare plants and their shrinking value over time.
This is one of the most important books on garden history in the last half century and, for anyone serious about the subject, it is a Must Buy.
a new kind of garden history ... Filled with fascinating and often surprising details
this is an immensely engaging book. The figures Floud presents, while abundant and obviously carefully uncovered, are so remarkable ... Floud's economic approach may seem an oblique means of interpreting [a landscape] but, trust me, it is surprisingly rewarding