The passion for Nature which characterized the Age of Enlightenment also affected garden design, producing a reaction against the formal symmetry and heavily pruned plants of the Baroque. The English landscape park – or ‘the English Garden’ as it was called in Europe at the time – focused on the shapes and delights of Nature at her most beautiful as a basis for the ideal culture landscape.
The park must be picturesque and emotive – ideally resembling a landscape painting. The creation of uplifting experiences was a key factor. Inspiration came from ancient Chinese gardens with their meandering paths, water features and expanses of exposed rock, as well as from Classical Antiquity, the Italian Renaissance and the dramatic landscape paintings of the 17th century.
Meandering walks characteristically lead the visitor through different scenic encounters and views, offering something new to experience at every turn: the contrasting light and shade caused by open expanses and dense groves, the sweeps of gently rolling lawns, the excitement of dark woodland trails. The various sections of the landscape were linked by long vistas that led the eye to a distant ‘eye-catcher’, a pavilion or other decorative structure ideally of exotic nature.