Heat Wave Reveals 17th-Century English Gardens

News August 16, 2022

(Longleat Gardens)
England Longleat House Parch Marks
(Longleat Gardens)

WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND—Recent extreme heat and drought has revealed traces of past garden design at an Elizabethan-era house in Wiltshire, according to a report from BBC News. Aerial images captured by drone show how the estate’s gardens would have appeared some four centuries ago. Details of the gardens, which covered 70 acres, include outlines of pathway fountains, walls, and statues, as well as a maze and a bowling green. The earliest visible features are parts of the walled gardens in front of Longleat House, which were painted by the Flemish landscape artist Jan Siberechts in 1675. “It is fascinating to be able to see these ‘ghost’ gardens and other features literally appearing out of the ground around the house,” says Longleat House curator James Ford. “These parch marks, that will entirely disappear again when the rain and cooler weather return, provide us with an invaluable window into a lost world and an opportunity to accurately plot the design and layout of these important elements of Longleat's history.” As was the case at many other English estates, Longleat’s formal gardens were turned into naturalistic parkland in the eighteenth century by landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown. To read about normally hidden features in the United Kingdom and Ireland that were revealed during a 2018 heat wave, go to “The Marks of Time.”

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