Evelyn, John 1620-1706

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Evelyn is probably the best known and widely quoted gardening writer of the 17th Century. In fact he has become known to many who had no interest in gardening because of his famous diary. The diarist Pepys called him a "very fine gentleman." There is no doubt but that he was well acquainted with and greatly respected by many members of the English aristocracy including nobles and others closely related to the ruling class in England.

Evelyn traveled extensively in France, Italy, and Flanders. He translated from the French De La Quintinyers magnificent work, which was the most beautiful book about English Gardening in any language. This translation became the standard English authority on the subject and was called The Compleat Gardner (1693).

Evelyn's book Acetaria, A Discourse of Sallets (1699) was a famous gardening book. He also wrote Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest Trees, which was a practical work. He had planned to write a book entitled The Plan of a Royal Garden but it was never completed. Acetaria (1699) was to be one of the chapters therein.

Remnants of his garden design recommendations are still extant in England.

Switzer states that he wrote "like another Virgil" and "was appointed for the retrieving the calamities of England and re-animating the Spirit of his countrymen for their planting and sowing of woods - to him it is owing that gardening can speak proper English."



The British Library - John Evelyn

Source: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/morefeatures.html