Picturesque Style of Landscape Gardening

The Picturesque style of landscape gardening was an eighteenth century movement to enhance gardens and landscapes and turn them into a vista worthy of being painted – The Garden as Art.

“Here hills with vales, here woods with water vie;

Here art with nature strives to feast the eye”


The leaders of the Picturesque style were Richard Payne Knight, Uvedale Price, William Sawrey Gilpin. And, as he progressed in his career, the landscape gardener, Humphry Repton.

Ruins and newly built classical temples as garden follies were all considered ‘a picturesque view’, especially when they could be admired at a slight distance, surounded by greenery of tree covered slopes, and valleys cradling a rushing river.

One of the earliest Picturesque landscape gardens was that created at Rievaulx Terrace in Yorkshire in the mid eighteenth century. Situated on an escarpment overlooking the Medieval Cistercian Abbey of Rievaulx, the walk gives tantalising views of the abbey by a careful arrangement of  observation points through the tree covered hill.

At his estate of Foxley, Uvedale Price created a landsape garden to meet his ideas of flowing natural planting, in the style of the painter Claude Lorrain. It was a very different garden design to that espoused by Lancelot Capability Brown; Price believed in keeping old, gnarled trees and winding paths.

Richard Payne Knight expressed his feelings for the Picturesque by designing a rugged, castellated mansion and romantic garden in his estate at Downton.

William Sawrey Gilpin created Scotney Castle garden for the Hussey family in 1834. The azelea collection in the quarry garden is the epitome of a Picturesque  landscape style garden.


Picturesque Style of Landscape Gardening – some examples to visit

RHS Wisley
Rievaulx Terrace
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Scotney Castle
Sheffield Park Garden
Wakehurst Place
Westonbirt National Arboretum

Links will take you to the Garden Visit blog post for a particular garden or landscape.

Professional Garden Consultants Association Chartered Institute of Horticulture  Landscape Juice Network