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The Modern British Garden: the interwar years

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The interwar years would become one of the most important and influential periods in the history of garden design; one which brought together art, artists, writers, architects and designers.

We discuss this period full of creative energy which influenced a whole new generation of garden makers and artists.

Artists, writers and sculptors’ gardens throughout garden history are studied, the gardens they create and paint, or write about. Gardens that are well known as well as a few private gardens are discussed, and we look at a number of these throughout Great Britain, Europe and America.

We go on a grand tour of gardens created by painters, writers, photographers and sculptors, a tour that includes a number of surprises.

Representation of gardens both in art and writing will be analysed, as will their importance throughout garden and landscape history.

The notion of ‘The Secret garden’ remains prevalent in many artistic forms, and this we explore and discuss, with reference both to artists gardens and their own ‘sanctuary’ and the artistic representations themselves.

Both traditional and contemporary gardens are considered and, as always throughout the course, we keep an eye on those modern garden creators that are making some of the most exciting gardens at the moment.

Learning and teaching

There will be lectures, case studies and group discussions.

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved.

Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning.

Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

Reading suggestions

  • Stephen Parker; England's Gardens: A Modern History. ( Dorling Kindersley 29 Jun. 2023)
  • Jane Brown, The English Garden Through the Twentieth Century (Garden Art Press, 1999)
  • Jane Brown, The Modern Garden (Thames and Hudson, 2000)
  • Jackie Bennett, The Writer's Garden: How Gardens Inspired our Best-loved Authors (Frances
  • Lincoln , 2 Oct 2014)
  • Katie Campbell, British Gardens in Time: The Greatest Gardens and the People Who Shaped
  • Them (Frances Lincoln, 27 Mar 2014))
  • Bill Laws, Artists' Gardens (Cassell Illustrated, 1 Feb 2000)
  • George Plumptre, The Gardens of England: Treasures of the National Gardens Scheme, (Merrell
  • Publishers Ltd 2013)
  • Tim Richardson, The New English Garden (Frances Lincoln, 2013)
  • Victoria Summerley; Secret Gardeners: Britain's Creatives Reveal Their Private Sanctuaries
  • (Frances Lincoln (5 Oct. 2017)
  • Sir Roy Strong, Remaking a Garden- The Laskett Transformed (Frances Lincoln, 15 May 2014)
  • Sir Roy Strong, The Artist and the Garden (Yale University Press 7 Oct 2005)
  • Tom Turner, British Gardens. History, Philosophy and Design (Routledge 2013)
  • Andrew Wilson, Influential Gardens: the designers who shaped 20th-century garden style.
  • (London: Mitchell Beazley 2002)
  • Christopher Wood, Painted Gardens (Pavilion Books 1998)
  • Malcolm Yorke (Editor), Gill Saunders (Editor) Bawden, Ravilious and the Artists of Great Bardfield
  • Hardcover – 7 Sept. 2015.

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.