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Functional and practical garden

A garden designed to be useful

Raised beds with green foliage and gravel pathways Photograph by Harriet Maxwell

Most urban gardens in the 1600s had a functional rather than leisurely use.

People used their outdoor space to carry out household tasks such as growing food and doing laundry. It was also where you would find the toilet.

Geometric shapes based on medieval patterns. Often enclosed with walls, hedging, fencing or railings.

Alongside the herbs and vegetables grown in raised beds, there were some decorative features. Arbours (shady areas created by climbing plants and trees) offered a place to shelter from the sun or rain, while fruit trees were prized for their scented blossoms and fruits.

Some plants that were grown in Stuart gardens more than 400 years ago, such as rosemary and roses, are still popular in gardens today.

Sweet rocket

Hesperis matronalis

Sweet rocket plant in a raised bed Photograph by Harriet Maxwell


Cichorium intybus

Chicory plant in raised bed Photograph by Harriet Maxwell

Common thyme

Thymus vulgaris

Detail of common thyme Photograph by Harriet Maxwell


Salvia rosmarinus

Rosemary plant in flower against backdrop of dark grey building Photograph by Harriet Maxwell


Primula veris

Detail of yellow primula Photograph by Harriet Maxwell

Wild pansy

Viola tricolor

Wild pansies in a raised bed Photograph by Harriet Maxwell