Can you tell your gloriette from your grotto? Or your parterre from your platoon?
Fear not! These images from the Historic England Archive will help you navigate through a selection of features found in historic gardens and garden landscapes.
What is a grotto?
A grotto is an artificial cavern. A feature of ancient Roman gardens, grottos were revived during the Renaissance and again in the 18th century when the Picturesque ideal became popular.
Grottos often include water features and decorative shell-work.
An umbrello is an outdoor structure that provides shade above a seat. They are places where people can meet, view their garden surroundings and sometimes take tea.
Pergolas are covered garden walks. They often have double rows of posts or columns supporting beams above. The posts and beams allow climbing plants to decorate the structure.
What is a clairvoie?
A clairvoie, a term derived from the French language, refers to an opening that provides a clear view of a garden or landscape.
This opening can take the form of grilles, fences, or gates and is often incorporated into garden walls and hedges.
The purpose of a clairvoie is to offer a glimpse of the natural beauty beyond while maintaining a sense of privacy and security.
What is an orangery?
An orangery is a garden building used for growing and wintering fruit and exotic plants. Its distinctive feature is a range of large windows on the south side to warm and light the interior.
Early orangeries date from the second half of the 16th century. They gained wide popularity in the late 18th century.
What is a parterre?
A French word meaning ‘on the ground’, parterres are level garden spaces close to a house. They are laid out in decorative patterns of low, formal beds and can include flowers, herbs, hedges, lawns and paths.
Parterres gained popularity in England during the 17th century as a type of formal garden design. This trend experienced a revival in the 19th century, providing an elegant and sophisticated setting for socialising with guests.
The intricate patterns of the parterres, adorned with various colourful flowers, were a sight to behold and added to the overall charm of the garden.
What is a fernery?
A fernery is a free-standing garden building or conservatory attached to a house for housing and displaying collections of ferns.
In the mid-19th century, Victorian Britain was gripped by ‘pteridomania’ or ‘fern fever’.
What is a ha-ha wall?
A ha-ha is a boundary feature in a garden that keeps out animals without obscuring a view. This is usually achieved using an earthwork ditch retained on one side by a vertical wall.
What is a crinkle-crankle wall?
A crinkle-crankle wall is a snake-like, curving or undulating wall. They may mark a boundary to a garden or enclose a kitchen garden.
What is a rill?
A garden rill is a designed watercourse, usually in the form of a narrow, shallow canal. Rills can be used to connect different garden areas and can add intrigue to eyes and ears.
What is a gloriette?
A gloriette is a garden building erected on an elevated site, generally with open sides that afford views over the surrounding garden or landscape.
The extravagant island gloriette at Leeds Castle in Kent allows for views over a castle moat to the landscape beyond.
What is a platoon?
Like a troop of soldiers lined up for inspection, a platoon, in garden terms, is a parallel rank of square or rectangular tree planting set in order alongside a drive or vista.
This aerial image of Holkham Park in Norfolk shows a platoon flanking a section of the great south avenue that was planted at Holkham Hall in 1735.
What is a potager?
Potager is French for ‘kitchen garden’. Potagers are often ornamental in character and can be both aesthetically pleasing and practical.
Influenced by medieval monastic gardens, potagers were elaborately revived in the 16th and 17th centuries, no more so than at the Palace of Versailles for the court of Louis XIV.
What is an espalier?
Espalier describes an ancient practice that controls the growth of a plant, particularly fruit trees, by pruning and training it to grow on a wall or fence into a specific pattern.
An espalier is decorative and provides the fruit tree with more light and warmth from the sun.