New Book | A Natural History of English Gardening, 1650–1800

Posted in books by Editor on March 19, 2015

Scheduled for June publication, from Yale UP:

Mark Laird, A Natural History of English Gardening, 1650–1800 (London: The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2015), 464 pages, ISBN: 978-0300196368, $75.

9780300196368Winner 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 life cycle, 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 summer of the volcanic 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 fundamentally transforms our understanding of the English landscape garden as a powerful cultural expression.

Mark Laird is a historic landscape consultant and garden conservator and teaches landscape history at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. Previous books include The Flowering of the Landscape Garden: English Pleasure Grounds, 1720–1800 and Mrs. Delany and Her Circle.