The Abraham Cowley
Text and Image Archive

Garden Microcosm: "The General disposition of a magnificent Garden." From Antoine Joseph Dézallier D'Argenville, Theory and Practice of Gardening, trans. John James (London, 1712). Reproduced with permission from the Special Collections of the University of Virginia; Dézallier's commentary on this plan is reprinted in The Genius of the Place: the English Landscape Garden 1620-1820, ed. John Dixon Hunt (London, 1975), 126-28. Cowley wryly observes in his essay "The Garden" to the eminent gardener John Evelyn, "... though I have made the first and hardest step to [felicity], by abandoning all ambitions and hopes in this World ... yet I stick still in the Inn of a hired House and Garden, among Weeds and Rubbish, and without that pleasantest work of Human Industry, the Improvement of something which we call (not very properly, but yet we call) Our Own." Yet the virtual garden of Cowley's Plantarum, ending up with the two "forest" books of America and the Britain-laid-waste of the English Civil War, rivals the most expansive of post-Civil War garden designs, for example the one pictured above, which as John Prest acutely suggests, actually uses a token Atlantic to draw in the wilds of "America" (The Garden of Eden: The Botanic Garden and the Re-Creation of Paradise [New Haven, 1981], 100). It is no wonder then that John Evelyn (whose garden at Sayes Court near Deptford was in some ways much like the one pictured and who seems to have lent many books Cowley used in composing Plantarum) considers the latter a major inspirer and partner in his gardening vision, citing Plantarum dozens of times in his now-published fragment Elysium Britannicum (see this volume of essay-discussions) and his final edition of Silva (London, 1706; for the 1664 first edition, styled "Sylva," see Links).

From the 1706 edition; editor's copy.
Related links:
An Earlier Magnificent Garden: Isaac de Caus' Wilton, with further early (and later) garden entries
Gardening in a circle / The gardener as Orpheus // Porch House, Chertsey, Cowley's Last Home
Poets' Pantheon (Paul's Walden, ca. 1730) / Virtual Standpoints: The Power of Outlandishness
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