Victorian gardens: 1837-1901

Visitors on the bridge at Bodnant Garden, Conwy
Bodnant is a spectacular garden situated above the river Conwy with dramatic views National Trust Images / Arnhel de Serra

The craze for plant collecting that took hold in the 19th century resulted in a return to a more formal garden style in which to display the latest plant introductions.

The Italian style terraces and balustrades made a welcome return to fashion by those who had tired of too much nature. Parterres were reintroduced, this time filled with the bright colours of exotic species reared in the new technologically advanced glasshouses.
Towards the end of the 19th century an appreciation of a more natural garden was expressed, most famously by William Robinson who favoured native plants. This resulted in the fashion for woodland gardens and a return to informality.

Style at a glance

  • Plant collections gathered from all corners of the world
  • Arboretums to display the collections of trees on a large scale
  • Flower beds reappear in ever brighter colours
  • Walled Kitchen Gardens benefit from advanced in technology to produce ever increasing ranges of fruit and vegetable
  • Advances in glass house technology enabling the most tender of plants to be cultivated at home
  • Rockeries become the craze as expeditions to mountainous regions increased
  • Wild gardens increase in popularity as a backlash against the industrial world
The gilded water buffalo sculpture at Biddulph Grange Garden, Staffordshire
Visit the gilded water buffalo at Biddulph Grange Garden National Trust Images / Paul Harris

Where to see Victorian gardens 

Discover the exotic plant collections and formal style of some of the Victorian gardens we look after.