Thursday, August 13, 2015

J. C. Loudon and his Gardening Vision

J. C. Loudon 1783-1843
John Claudius Loudon was a Scot, educated in horticulture (biology, botany, etc.) at the University of Edinburgh and a prolific garden and landscape designer and writer, despite significant physical frailty.

His most notable publications appeared in the 1820's after the Prince Regent had become King George IV. But Loudon published pamphlets and articles almost from moment he began designing gardens, landscapes and the layout of farms.

One of his most interesting pamphlets was published in 1807. Titled
Engravings, with Descriptions, illustrative of the difference between The Modern Style of Rural Architecture
and the Improvement of Scenery, and that displayed in A Treatise on Country Residences,
and practised by Mr. Loudon
the pamphlet contained 'before' and 'after' engravings of some of Loudon's work. He aimed to improve the 'picturesque' work of Capability Brown with his own 'gardenesque' style.

Mr. Loudon describes the intent of his pamphlet in the introduction:
His engravings of Barnbarroch (Barnbarrow) House, in Scotland, show clearly the significant extent of the changes he proposed.
Barnbarrow House in 1805
Barnbarrow as it would look three years after renovations commenced
In his pamplet, Loudon also used illustrations of some grounds at Harewood House (where he undertook a substantial renovation). In this area he proposed to join three sections of water into one.

Harewood House grounds 1805

Same Harewood location with proposed changes
In a telling series of illustrations of a 400-500 acre portion of an imaginary estate, Loudon shows the progression of design through one hundred years.
Figure 1 shows the formal early 18th century plan:
Figure 2 shows the layout as it would have been conceived by Brown, Repton and their contemporaries:
And Figure 3 shows his own concept for such a property. In all three cases the house is difficult to locate, clearly secondary to the overall landscape design.
A study of Loudon's work shows the development of landscape architecture into the early years of Queen Victoria's reign. In his later years, he undertook city and cemetery planning. But he began his work, in gardens, in the early 1800s, challenging the ideas of the great Repton who died in 1818.

Many of Loudon's works including his "Gardener's Magazine" are available free from Google Books. Those of his wife, Jane (nee Webb), an established author who undertook to write also on botany and flower gardening, are likewise available.

'Til next time,