Exploring the wealth of natural-history knowledge generated by gardening through history, Mark Laird produces a study both striking and informative.
Winner of the 2013 David R. Coffin Publication Grant, given by the Foundation for Landscape Studies.
Inspired by the pioneering naturalist Gilbert White, who viewed natural history as the common study of cultural and natural communities, Mark Laird unearths forgotten historical data to reveal the complex visual cultures of early modern gardening. Ranging from climate studies to the study of a butterfly’s lifecycle, this original and fascinating book examines the scientific quest for order in nature as an offshoot of ordering the garden and field. Laird follows a broad series of chronological events – from the Little Ice Age winter of 1683 to the drought caused by a volcanic eruption in 1783 – to probe the nature of gardening and husbandry, the role of amateurs in scientific disciplines and the contribution of women as gardener-naturalists. Illustrated by a stunning wealth of visual and literary materials – paintings, engravings, poetry, essays and letters, as well as prosaic household accounts and nursery bills – Laird transforms our understanding of the English landscape garden as a powerful cultural expression.
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