Dr Toby Musgrave

The History Of Garden Design

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    $200

    Includes personal feedback and tuition. More

  • $75

    Learn in an online classroom with no more than 20 classmates. More

Course Description

This garden design course looks at the history for garden design - from ancient Egyptian gardens to modern urban gardens, and gives you an insight into the role gardens perform in art, culture and purpose.

The course is suitable for students of all levels.

Ornamental gardens are complex, three-dimensional, (albeit overlooked) works of art, and ever since the first garden was made in Ancient Egypt some 4,300 ago they have acted as cultural barometers. 

Down the millennia and across continents every civilisation and nation has developed its own garden styles.  Over time and place these styles have evolved in tune with changes in the cultural, artistic, social, economic, technological and political landscapes. 

From peristyle courtyards of Roman villas to erotic and sensuous paradises of the Islamic world from the stylized nature of Japanese gardens through the Baroque opulence of Versailles to Arts and Crafts and cottage garden artisanship and the functionality of Californian Modern. Garden art and culture have always been profoundly interactive - at one and the same each shapes the other.  As a result of this unique relationship garden art is an intrinsic, integral and influential component of the zeitgeist

For example, one of the influences on the Italian Renaissance garden was the desire to understand the relationship between Man, God and Nature, and political ideology and sexual innuendo helped shape the English landscape garden. 

And as for the 20th century suburban garden...it was loaded with the expression of expected cultural values.

Garden History therefore takes an interdisciplinary approach.  Artistic analysis of individual garden styles will reveal design principles and aesthetics, and the garden form will be deconstructed to display the style’s constituent elements, their configuration and the planting.  

Simultaneous cultural analysis of the garden style will identify and interpret its interactions with the zeitgeist, provide insight into the garden’s role and purpose, and explain how the garden style impacted the cultural spectrum, both nationally and on a global level.

Course outline

  • Of the Ancients and the East

    In this lesson we will explore the earliest gardens made. In the West we will look at the first garden-making culture, the Egyptians, the origins of paradise in Mesopotamia before examining the gardens of Greece and Rome.

  • Man, God and the Garden

    In this lesson we will explore what happened in the aftermath of the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476. The emergence of the Islamic garden, the European medieval garden, and the rediscovery of the Classics and the development of the Renaissance garden from its genesis in Italy and its spread across Europe.

  • Turning the Wheel of Fashion

    In this lesson we will explore how the wheel of fashion takes a full revolution in a century-and-a-half as we explore the contrasts between nature dominated by man in the Baroque garden, the more-natural-than-nature English Landscape Garden and the artistic Picturesque and Gardenesque.

  • Art, Craft, Nature and Modernism.

    In this the last lesson we will examine the diversity of the 19th century garden, explore the controversy of the Battle of Styles and find a solution before moving on to the 20th century, Modernism and post-Modernism.

Choose how you want to learn

Gardening classroom - how it works

  • Start anytime

    Watch video tutorials led by expert tutors

    Watch video tutorials led by expert tutors
  • Test yourself

    Practice what you learn with inspiring assignments

    Practice what you learn with inspiring assignments
  • Personal tuition

    Get assignment feedback from expert tutors

    Get assignment feedback from expert tutors
  • Share ideas

    Collaborate and chat directly to classmates

    Collaborate and chat directly to classmates

Meet Dr Toby Musgrave

Dr Toby Musgrave - Gardening

The hustle and bustle of a city does not usually correspond with the serenity of a garden. In Phaidon’s latest hardcover, Green Escapes: The Guide to Secret Urban Gardens by Dr Toby Musgrave, the correlation is not only evident, but necessary

American Vogue
I have an absolute passion for garden design and garden history - you will regularly see me writing in the Royal Horticultural Society Magazine, and scholarly articles in broadsheet newspapers and journals all over the world.

I have written 10 books and counting. I'm a practising lecturer and write a well trafficked blog - Garden History Matters.

As a garden designer I have created gardens in the UK, the USA, India and in Denmark. I live in Denmark, am 'between gardens' and find the climate ‘challenging’.

I look forward to sharing my knowledge on Garden History with you. I joined Learning with Experts because I'm keen to help educate the next generation through digital learning.

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