Groves, wildernesses and other forms of ornamental woodland, dissected by paths and clearings and containing a range of buildings, sculptures and other features, were popular elements in English gardens in the later seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Attitudes to woods and trees had been developing over several hundred years; they were part of a wider grammar of landscape through which landowners and others understood the physical environment. When considering any aspect of the history of landscape design, people need always to be awake to the dangers of compartmentalisation, of limiting their historical imagination by concentrating only on a few aspects of human experience. Recognising continuities as much as changes is crucial for their appreciation of garden history, especially when they attempt to understand the symbolism of gardens; but they should avoid the trap of failing to see, as it were, the wood for the trees.