When English Pleasure Gardens was first published a century ago, it was instantly acclaimed as a resource for gardeners, tourists, and history lovers alike. This new edition will introduce a new generation to the pageantry of Britain’s garden heritage and to the redoubtable Rose S. Nichols, who hailed from Boston’s Beacon Hill, was among our earliest professional garden designers, and was nationally recognized for her expertise with native plants and residential garden design. Her designs derived from English formal gardens, but her planting style was American in spirit. Her gardens have disappeared, but her legacy survives in her writings. Like its sequels, Italian Pleasure Gardens and Spanish and Portuguese Gardens, her first book was written to fill a need; in 1902 there were few garden guidebooks and Nichols, a consummate traveler, relied on friends’ recommendations to determine what was worth her time, and then spent decades visiting and describing the little known and inaccessible gardens of Europe.
Nichols brings to her subject a deep knowledge of garden history and an incisive critical eye that still resonates today. Beautifully illustrated with her own line drawings and photographs taken during her travels, this survey presents the history of British gardens with a grace and erudition no other book has ever achieved, covering England’s monastic gardens, the formal Tudor garden, Elizabethan flower gardens, as well as the influence of French, Dutch, and Italian traditions. Dedicated to her uncle, the American Renaissance sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, English Pleasure Gardens is as compelling reading today as it was one hundred years ago.