Stuart Gardens: 1600-early 1700s

The view through the Topiary Garden to Chastleton House, Oxfordshire
Chastleton's garden retains its Jacobean layout, divided into compartments according to use and there's even some original planting National Trust Images / Arnhel de Serra

The main development of gardens in the Stuart period is that of scale as they were influenced by the vast formal gardens of France, and later, in a more sober fashion, Holland.

These gardens were designed to be symmetrical with long axial walks and rides stretching into the woods and parks beyond, resulting in the advent of the Avenue. Great expanses of water were brought to life by dancing fountains or pleasure boats. Pleached trees formed the boundaries around the garden and elaborate free flowing parterres replacing Tudor knot gardens. Topiary was used to create formal shapes out of evergreen shrubs in the ultimate expression of man’s control over nature.

Style at a glance

  • Formal layout influenced by the great gardens of France
  • Terraces controlling the irregular natural landscape
  • Parterres evolved from the Tudor knots
  • Avenues, an expression of welcome as well as status
  • Canals reflecting the fashion for all thing Dutch at the end of the 17th century
  • Fountains and extravagant water displays to animate the gardens
  • Topiary, an expression of the ultimate control over nature
  • Wildernesses, not exactly wild, but a woody place for intrigue and exercise
The Parterre Garden at Blickling Estate, Norfolk
Blickling's garden has evolved over the centuries to reflect different fashions National Trust Images / Andrew Butler

Where to see gardens with Stuart features 

Gardens grew larger during the Stuart period, as the influence of French and Dutch formal gardens brought features such as long avenues, terraces and topiary. Here's our pick of the Stuart gardens we look after.