In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Gardens

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference
  • Journals
  • Online Sources
  • Debates in Garden History
  • Kitchen Gardens
  • Plants and Flowers
  • The Vernacular Landscape

Atlantic History Gardens
Molly McClain
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 November 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 June 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199730414-0271


Gardens can be tangible—rows of carefully tended flowers—and metaphorical. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the cultivation of plants and the arrangement of a landscape expressed both the cultivation of self and the husbandry required to maintain social order. After European voyages of exploration shattered the myth of a Mediterranean world, people began to reorganize, categorize, and explain new realities. Botanists, horticulturalists, gardeners, and ordinary men and women participated in a culture that celebrated the collection and cultivation of exotic specimens from Asia, Africa, and the Americas. They drew on military innovations to advance landscape design and signaled their freedom from authority by creating deliberately “natural” gardens. A remarkable cross-fertilization of ideas, practices, and attitudes shaped the development of Atlantic gardens in the period 1500–1800. This article provides an introduction to the wide range of works on the subject of garden and landscape design in the early modern world.

General Overviews

The field of garden history developed in Great Britain; as a result, some of the most sophisticated works focus on British and European gardens and landscapes. Leslie and Hunt 2013 summarizes the most recent scholarship on garden history and includes chapters on design, types of gardens, plantings, use and reception, meaning, verbal representations, and visual representations. Goode and Lancaster 1986 is an encyclopedic account of European gardens that also provides biographical profiles. Conan and Quilter 2007 may be of some use as an introduction to garden history in the Americas, while Mosser and Teyssot 2000 offers a set of essays on the theme of garden design.

  • Conan, Michel, and Jeffrey Quilter. Gardens and Cultural Change: A Pan-American Perspective. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2007.

    Contributors explore the relationship between garden making and cultural change in Argentina, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States.

  • Goode, Patrick, and Michael Lancaster, eds. The Oxford Companion to Gardens. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.

    Encyclopedic account of garden design, horticulture, and the social history of gardens from Antiquity to the present, including biographies of garden designers, nurserymen, and others. Over half of the 1,500 entries are devoted to landscape gardens, public parks, and international exhibitions.

  • Leslie, Michael, and John Dixon Hunt, eds. A Cultural History of Gardens. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.

    This six-volume survey summarizes the most recent scholarship on garden history from Antiquity to the modern age. Volume 3, A Cultural History of Gardens in the Renaissance, is edited by Elizabeth Hyde, while Volume 4, A Cultural History of Gardens in the Age of Enlightenment, is edited by Stephen Bending.

  • Mosser, Monique, and Georges Teyssot, eds. History of Garden Design: The Western Tradition from the Renaissance to the Present Day. London: Thames & Hudson, 2000.

    Chronological series of essays on the history of the garden from the 15th to the 21st century.

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