University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Anytime News Article


Dr. Leonard P. Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Some of the key figures that shaped our gardening plants and practices, whose names begin with the letter "P", range from Pliny to Page and over two millennia.  Previous ones can be found in articles on the web (

Russell Page (1906-1985) was an English landscape architect who practiced throughout Europe and the United States in the middle of the last century.  He is mainly known for his many gardens, primarily of private estates, and his book (The Education of a Gardener).

John Parkinson (1567-1650) was an English gardener and herbalist, famous primarily for his two books.  The first published in 1629 was a good record of horticulture at that time.  The book is devoted to "a garden of delight and pleasure", referring to the flower garden, kitchen garden, and orchard.  His second book was a famous herbal, published in 1640, but is lesser known than Gerard's herbal published seven years prior.

Andre Parmentier (died in 1830) was an American nurseryman who laid out a garden, vineyard, and nursery in Brooklyn overlooking New York harbor.  So many flocked to see his garden, that he was credited with introducing the natural landscape garden so popular in England to the New World.

Sir Joseph Paxton (1803-1865) was an English gardener and architect, responsible for some of the great parks of his time.  For years he was responsible for, and greatly added to, the Duke of Devonshire's gardens at Chatsworth.  There he built one of the largest glasshouses of the time, and was the first to flower the giant Victoria water lily in Britain.  He later designed the giant Crystal Palace glasshouse for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, for which he was knighted.  He was also a prolific writer in botany and horticulture.

Harold Peto (1854-1933) was an English architect, known for his incorporation of classical objects into Italian style gardens.  Canals, garden houses, colonnades, and courtyards were integrated with plants in gardens such as his own at Iford Manor.

While Peto introduced ideas from abroad into English gardens, two other much less known (at least in this country) gardeners introduced English garden ideas elsewhere.  Bernhard Petri (1767-1853) was the first to introduce the English garden style to Hungary, and created the first public garden in Budapest.  Fredrik Piper (1746-1824) was the first to introduce this style to Sweden.

Charles Platt (1861-1933) was an American landscape architect who strongly influenced the direction of this field in this country early in the century.  He designed many "country places" in his native New England, the Northeast, Michigan, and
California.  He had studied, and was a master of, the Italian gardens.  Their main characters of integrated indoor and outdoor spaces, of fitting architecture and the landscape to the site, and of incorporating the lifestyles of the times, were evident in his own projects.

We end the famous "P" horticulturists with one of the first-- Pliny the elder (23-79AD).  Although a commander in the Roman fleet, he is best known for his vast natural history encyclopedia (Naturalis Historia) in 37 books.   In book 19 he dealt with, and described in detail, kitchen gardens.  Their history, soil preparation, plants, cultivation, and plant uses are all described.

Then in book 21, according to Pliny, he "included everything about flowers that will seem worthy of record".  Both cultivated and wild flowers are discussed, with their uses such as in ointments and perfumes.  What these flowers really are can only be speculated, as at that time names we use today were applied to quite different plants.  And the same plant was often given several names.  This was not sorted out until the time of Linnaeus (covered in a previous article) in the 18th century.

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