Revolutions in the garden
English garden design tends to be in a revolution condition at the close of the century (Figure 1).
In England, the middle years of the seventeenth century were a time of revolution. A king was executed and the country flooded with republican ideas. The restoration of a king who had lived his adult life in France, in 1660, brought an influx of late-Renaissance ideas. Another king was brought from Holland, in 1688, bringing the enlightened ideas of a very advanced country. The stage was set, by 1690, for England to take the lead in world development. A philosophical movement, empiricism, revolutionized science and had a profound influence on garden design. Rationalists believed that human reason is the ultimate source of certainty in knowledge. Empiricists believed that observation of the ex ternal world is the ultimate test. In gardens, this led to an increasing dislike of straight lines and to a love of irregularity. Sir William Temple pub lished his essay Upon the Gardens o f Epicurus in 1692, with the following remark:
What I have said, of the best Forms of Gardens, is meant only of such as are in some Sort regular; for there may be other Forms wholly irregular, that may, for aught I know, have more Beauty than any of the others; but they must owe it to some extra ordinary Dispositions of Nature in the Seat, or some great Race of Fancy or Judgement in the Contrivance . . .