This section is from the book "A History Of Gardening In England", by Alicia Amherst. Also available from Amazon: A History Of Gardening In England.
These little details cannot fail to be of interest. They show how a man, an ardent Cavalier, who had lived through such stirring scenes, turned his attention to his garden to pass away the years of inaction and waiting until the Restoration. He took up gardening not only as a pastime, but really gave his brains to it, as well as his time, and made himself a thorough master of the art, as further notes from his pen show. Another Royalist, who has always been recognized as one of the greatest patrons of gardening, was Lord Capel, son of the Lord Capel who was beheaded in 1648. He was created Earl of Essex in 1661, and died in the Tower in 1683. He made the garden at Cassiobury, which is frequently referred to as one of the most beautiful gardens of the seventeenth century. His brother, Sir Henry Capel, was also a gardener, and introduced " several sorts of fruits from France." * He had a garden at Kew, in it were "curious greens"; it was " as well kept as any about London " and his " flowers and fruits" were "of the best." † Sir Henry was created Baron Capel of Tewkesbury in 1692, hence there is apt to be some confusion in the various allusions to Lord Capel, as both were gardeners. The Earl of Essex seems to have confided the chief care of his gardens to Cooke, a celebrated gardener and author of a work on fruit trees, though, as Evelyn remarks,* " no man has been more industrious than this noble Lord in planting about his seate adorn'd with walkes, ponds, and other rural elegancies. . . . The gardens at Cassiobury are very rare, and cannot be otherwise, having so skilful an artist to govern them as Mr. Cooke, who is, as to the mechanical part, not ignorant in mathematics, and pretends to astrology." Sir Henry does not appear to have had such assistance;—" his garden has the choicest fruit of any plantation in England, as he is the most industrious and understanding in it." †
* Switzer, Ichnographia Rustica, 1718. † Gibson, Gardens about London, 1691.
Another distinguished Royalist and gardener was John Evelyn. His great work on Forest trees does not really come into our subject. It was written for the Royal Society (of which Evelyn was one of the first Fellows) with the idea of being a practical assistance in the planting of trees in parks, woods and forests, and went far beyond the narrow limits of a garden. But gardens are incidentally referred to, as the following extracts show. He urges the hardiness of cedars, and regrets they are not more grown. Perhaps it was at his suggestion that some were planted in the Chelsea physic garden in 1683. The ilex, also, he proves to be hardy by the remains of one in the Privy Garden, Whitehall, " Where once flourished a goodly tree of more than four score years." " Phillyrea is sufficiently hardy, which makes me wonder to find angustifolia planted in cases and so charily set into the stoves among the oranges and lemons." He had " four large round " Phillyreas, " smooth-clipped," in his own garden at Sa)S Court, Deptford.‡ Under Hornbeam, he notices the "admirable " hedges at " Hampton Court and New Park," " the delicious villa of the noble Earl of Rochester." " These hedges are tonsile, but where they are maintained to 15 or 20 feet height . . . they are to be kept in order with a scythe of 4 foot long, and very little falcated, that is, fixed in a long sneed or straight handle, and does wonderfully expedite the trimming." . . These hedges are a great "convenience for the protection of our orange trees, myrtles, and other rare perennials and exotics." The laurel was so commonly used for the same purpose, that Evelyn says " it seems as if it had only been destined for hedges." Holly for a garden-hedge he also enthusiastically praises:—"Is there under heaven a more glorious and refreshing object of the kind than an impregnable hedge of about 480 feet length, 9 feet high, and 5 feet in diameter, which I can show in my now ruined gardens at Says Court (thanks to the Czar of Muscovy) any time of year, glittering with its armed and varnished leaves." This is quoted from the later edition of the Silva, and the " ruin " of the garden refers to the damage done there by Peter the Great, who lived at Sayes Court to be near Deptford during his visit to England (1698). He is said to have amused himself by being wheeled about the garden in a wheel-barrow, over borders and through hedges, regardless of consequences. In his Diary, on June 8th, 1698, Evelyn writes :—" I went to Deptford to see how miserably the Czar had left my house after three months making it his Court. I got Sr. Christr. Wren, the K.'s surveyor, and Mr. London, his gardener, to go and estimate the repairs, for which they allowed £150 in their report to the Lords of the Treasury".
* Evelyn's Diary.
† Ibid. ‡ Gibson. Gardens about London, 1691.
Besides the interest he took in his own garden, Evelyn helped to lay out others. The family seat of the Evelyns, Wotton, in Surrey, he says, was one of " the most magnificent that England afforded, and which indeed gave one of the finest examples to that elegancy since so much in vogue." He, however, helped his brother to carry out various alterations in 1652. With much deference to so distinguished a gardener as Evelyn, at this distance of time we may be allowed to doubt if all his alterations were improvements. There was a " mount " or " mountaine," and a moat within ten yards of the house. This was taken away by " digging down the mountaine and flinging it into a rapid streame . . . filling up the moat, and levelling that noble area where now the garden and fountain is." In 1658 he went "to Alburie (Albury, near Guildford) to see how that garden proceeded, which I found exactly don to the designe and plot I had made, with the crypta thro' the mountain in the park 30 perches in length, such a Pausilippe is no where in England besides. The Canall was now digging and the vineyard planted." This curious cutting through the hill still exists, besides other traces of the old work, and a very fine yew hedge. Again, he shows himself to be the advocate of a holly hedge, in the following extract from his Diary :—" 25 Sept. 1672, I din'd at Lord John Berkeleys ... it was in his new house or rather palace. . . For the rest, the fore court is noble, so are the stables, and above all the gardens, which are incomparable by reason of the inequality of the ground, and a pretty piscina. The holly hedges on the terrace I advised the planting of," Berkeley House, which was burnt to the ground, stood on the site of what is now Hay Hill, Berkeley Square, and Lansdowne House.