After two World Wars, many estates could no longer sustain a large workforce of gardeners and as a result, gardens became increasingly low maintenance with many landlords opening their properties to the public to raise money. Others were forced to give their properties to the nation in lieu of death duties with the National Trust becoming the estate’s guardian.
At the turn of the century, a new style of Art had emerged which became dominant after 1939: the Modern Movement. It was based on modern technologies such as concrete, glass and steel with the idea that form should follow function. An advocate of this new movement was Christopher Tunnard, a Candian-born landscape architect, garden designer and city-planner. Tunnard wrote a series of articles for the Architectural Review in which he challenged the prevailing views of garden design. He believed that ‘a garden is a Work of Art’, embodying ‘a spirit of rationalism and through an aesthetic and practical ordering of its units provides a friendly and hospitable milieu for rest and recreation’. The articles were republished as a book, Gardens in the Modern Landscape (1938) with a second edition appearing ten years later.
The work was a turning point in twentieth century garden design and influenced many designers including Dame Sylvia Crowe, Brenda Colvin, Geoffrey Jellicoe and John Brookes.
Several owners created iconic gardens during this century including Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter, Lawrence Johnston at Hidcote and Vita Sackville-West at Sissinghurst.
The twenty-first century has seen a green revolution with numerous garden designers springing up from all over the world, each with their own individualistic style. It’s an exciting time in the history of garden design.