at home: Book Discussion | “English Garden Eccentrics”

November 4, 2022

Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, landscape architect and historian, in conversation with Emily Evans Eerdmans, design historian

About “English Garden Eccentrics: Three hundred years of extraordinary groves, burrowings, mountains, and menageries”

In his new book, English Garden Eccentrics (2022), renowned landscape architect and historian Todd Longstaffe-Gowan reveals a series of eccentric English garden-makers who, between the early seventeenth and early twentieth centuries, created intensely personal and idiosyncratic gardens. These fascinating individuals—including the bird-loving Lady Read, superstitious antiquary William Stukeley, and gloomy anti-pleasure garden proprietor Jonathan Tyres—built built miniature mountains, shaped topiaries, displayed exotic animals, excavated caves, and assembled architectural fragments and fossils to realize their gardens in a way that were, and often still are, thought to be excessive.

English Garden Eccentrics brings together garden and landscape history with cultural history and biography. The book engagingly reveals what it is about the gardener and his or her creation that can be seen as eccentric and focuses on an area of garden history that has scarcely been previously explored: gardens seen as expressions of the singular character of their makers, and therefore functioning, in effect, as a form of autobiography. 

About Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

Longstaffe-Gowan is a landscape architect and historian with an international practice based in London. He studied environmental studies at the University of Manitoba, landscape architecture at Harvard University, and completed his PhD in historical geography at University College, London. He did post-doctoral research at Yale University, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. He is gardens adviser to Historic Royal Palaces, trustee of the Chelsea Physic Garden, lecturer at New York University (London), president of the London Gardens Trust, editor of The London Gardener, and author of several books including The London Town Garden (Yale University Press, 2001) and The London Square (Yale University Press, 2012). He recently designed a new garden for the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, which he describes as “a whiff of Rome in Midtown Manhattan.” Other projects include the waterside garden of the Miro Gallery in London; Majlis Garden, Venice Architectural Biennale 2021; Kitchen Garden, Kew Palace; The Privy Garden, Hampton Court Palace; and the gardens at the Royal College of Art, London. 

About Emily Evans Eerdmans

Eerdmans is a design historian and founder of Eerdmans New York, a fine and decorative arts gallery and consultancy in New York City. She is the author of several books including monographs on Madeleine Castaing and Henri Samuel, and the co-author of Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration. She has an MA in fine and decorative arts from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London, and has taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the New York School of Interior Design.

This program is presented through the generosity of the Terry F. Green 1969 Fund for British Art and Culture.