William Lawson (1553/4 - 1635) was the Vicar of Ormesby in North Yorkshire at the beginning of the seventeenth century. He published A New Orchard and Garden in 1618. A keen, experienced gardener who distilled the fruits of his knowledge, his books are among the treasures of early gardening literature. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Lawson wrote from experience: he got his fingers dirty not simply re-telling book-learnt knowledge. There is the ring of truth in his advice. While making suggestions about the practice of gardening and growing fruit trees, he is particularly interested in the layout and design of orchard and pleasure garden.
The correspondence of Pliny the Younger, writing in the first century A.D., depicts for us the everyday life of a Roman gentleman. His letters give us a picture of social life as it was in the closing years of the first, and the opening years of the second century. In Pliny, we find the modern love for a beautiful view. When he describes his Tuscan villa he uses language with which we feel in complete harmony.
Paradisi in Sole, published in 1629, was a landmark in English garden literature. The Hunt catalogue describes it as "a very complete picture of the English garden at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and in such delightful, homely, literary style that gardeners cherish it even to the present day." Its title is a pun on the name of its author, John Parkinson (1566-1650) and can be translated as "Park-in-sun's earthly paradise". By profession Parkinson was an apothecary and when the Society of Apothecaries was formed, in December 1617, he was one of its founding members.
This ancient love poem from the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament is traditionally understood to be written by King Solomon (who reigned c. 971-932 B.C.). The garden with flowers, birds, apple trees, pomegranates, cinnamon, figs and lilies, and well of living waters provides a perfect setting. Let the Song of Songs speak for itself:
The Song of Solomon
John Evelyn was a courtier, writer and virtuoso. He was actively involved in the early Royal Society and intimate with many leading natural philosophers and writers throughout his long life. His book Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest-Trees was the first to be published under the auspices of the Royal Society. It appeared in 1664 and shows a strong debt to Bacon's method of natural history. It was Evelyn's most popular work and was reissued a number of times in the seventeenth century.