English Garden Eccentrics:
Three Hundred Years of Extraordinary Groves, Burrowings, Mountains and Menageries

Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

Publicaton Date
April 2022
Standard Number
Yale University Press
400 pages, 240 x 165
198 colour + b/w illus.

In his new book, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan looks at a series of unique gardens made by English eccentrics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Their unusual creators – from the superstitious antiquary William Stukeley (d.1765), to the pleasure-ground proprietor Jonathan Tyers (d.1767), and the bird-loving Lady Reade (d.1811) – built miniature mountains, shaped topiary, collected animals, excavated caves and assembled architectural fragments to realize their gardens in a way that was, and sometimes still is, thought to be excessive.

Bringing together garden and landscape history with cultural history and biography, English Garden Eccentrics examines what it is about the gardener and his or her creation that can be seen as eccentric and analyses an area of garden history that has scarcely been previously explored: gardens seen as expressions of the singular character of their makers and therefore functioning, in effect, as a form of autobiography.

This lively and accessible book calls on gardeners today to learn from example and dare to be eccentric.