From across the seas: the gardenesque at Vaucluse House

The pleasure garden at Vaucluse House, with its expansive green lawns and shrubbery of exotic curiosities, replicates one of the pinnacle movements of 19th-century horticulture – the gardenesque.

Developed by the influential Scottish-born landscape architect John Claudius Loudon, the popular style was a response, in part, to the flood of exotic plants available to Victorian-era gardeners. Displayed as geographically and aesthetically distinct ‘specimens’ to emphasise differences in foliage, flowers and form, the plants on show at Vaucluse House are fascinating examples of a period defined by prosperous ports, imperial politics, seafaring trade networks and exciting scientific discovery. The pleasure garden remains Sydney’s most complete surviving example of the gardenesque over 150 years later.

More about our gardens

The present prevailing taste for botany and horticulture, and the introduction, from other countries, of many new plants … [have] given rise to a school which we call the Gardenesque; the characteristic feature of which, is the display of the beauty of trees and other plants individually.

John Claudius Loudon (1783–1843), The landscape gardening and landscape architecture of the late Humphrey Repton, Esq.,1840.

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About the Author

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Amelia Lindsay
Assistant Curator
Amelia Lindsay is an assistant curator with SLM's Curatorial & Exhibitions team. Growing up just moments away from historical...

About the Author

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Helen Curran
Former Assistant Curator
Helen was Sydney Living Museums’ dedicated gardens...
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