The history and development of gardens is fascinating, but long and complex. It is beyond the scope of this book except where it affects the different styles of gardening that have evolved over the ages. From vital subsistence vegetable gardening on the fertile banks of great rivers such as the Nile to the monasteries of old, gardening has developed into a multi-faceted skill, utilising the expertise and lessons of the past, pushing the boundariesinto the exciting unknown.
Certain styles still govern the arrangements of space, for example the gardens designed by the brilliant Spanish garden designer of the 20th century, Fernando Caruncho. The basis of his work relies on the grid system influenced by Persian gardens. He says, inspired by Petrarch, ‘In order to travel into the future, it is necessary to walk towards the pure clarity of the past.’ Although he may use wheat, olive trees and cypresses as plant material in his design as he did in the Mas de les Voltes, the basic principles of formal design prevail.
In the creative planting of grasses and perennials by designers such as Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury in the 21st century, the outcome may look natural, but the planning of contrast, repetition, and the interweaving of plants requires a deep knowledge of both plant behavior and design.
Gardens are governed by ‘the spirit of place’ and some beg for a particular style, while others are open to various interpretations or even a mixture of style. This book will help the gardener decide.