Gardens through the ages

From the self-sufficient gardens of the medieval period through to the low maintenance, ornamental gardens of the 20th-century, we explore how fashions of the time have greatly influenced garden design.

Studley Royal Water Garden, Fountains Abbey
Studley Royal Water Garden, Fountains Abbey National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Medieval gardens: Middle Ages to 1500 

Medieval garden style was dominated by monasteries and manor houses. Herbs were grown for medicine and gardens were an important food source.

The Gatehouse at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
Hardwick's impressive herb garden was created in the 1960s and contains plants that would have been familiar to an Elizabethan household National Trust Images / Andrew Butler

Tudor gardens: Henry VII 1485 - Elizabeth I 1603 

The Renaissance left its mark on the gardens of the Tudors. Find out where to spot features including fountains and loggias.

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

Stuart Gardens: 1600-early 1700s 

Find out about the design features of a Stuart garden, and how to spot them at the places we look after.

The lake at Croome Park, Worcestershire
Capability Brown designed Croome Park, with its mile-long serpentine lake National Trust Images / David Noton

Georgian gardens: 1714-1830 

Discover how garden and park merged into one during the 18th century, to create a British style that influenced gardens across Europe.

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

Victorian gardens: 1837-1901 

Exotic plants from around the world were brought home to gardens by Victorian collectors. The bright new colours were displayed in more formal garden styles.

Hidcote Manor garden
Looking towards the Stilt Garden gates at Hidcote Manor National Trust Images/Nick Meers

20th-century gardens: Edwardian to present day 

The structured 'rooms' that epitomised gardens at the turn of the century were later softened with borders of the many new herbaceous plants being bred.