The History Of Garden Design

How to interpret gardens from an historical perspective

taught by
Toby Musgrave

Garden History Online Course

$185.00
4 lessons
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How our courses work▲ TOP

You're going to love learning with us!

  • After you buy, you can start the course whenever you're ready
  • You'll have 4 weeks to complete 4 lessons, study at your own pace
  • You'll likely need 2 1/2 hours per lesson, but you can study whenever it suits you
  • You'll get expert critique from your tutor Toby Musgrave (you'll be able to ask them questions too)
  • We'll pair you up with a group of like-minded classmates from around the world
  • You'll have access to the classroom, content and your classmates for life
  • You'll also gain certification

More questions? Take a look at our frequently asked questions.

Watch a short preview▲ TOP

About the course▲ TOP

Suitable for All Abilities

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.

Moreover, 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.

Learning Outcomes.  By the end of this online garden history course students will:

  • Know and understand the evolution of the garden as an art form.

  • Be able to artistically ‘read’ a garden: to deconstruct and understand specific styles - their form, design, content and purpose.

  • To be able to draw correlations and comparison between them, and know their influences.

  • Know and understand why gardens interacted with the culture of which they were an integral part.

  • Know the cultural and artistic impacts the gardens made on its zeitgeist and understand the outcomes of these interactions.
Find out more about how our online gardening courses work

Lesson Plan▲ TOP

Each lesson starts with a 30 minute video from your expert tutor, which you can watch whenever you like.

After each lesson, practice what you’ve learned with an assignment and receive personalised feedback from your tutor. Each of which should take no longer than 2 hours.

  1. 1. 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.

  2. 2. 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.

  3. 3. 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.

  4. 4. 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.

See all students who have taken this course