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Paxton's Protege

Price: £20.00

by John Craddock

John’s latest book invites us to take a leisurely stroll through the parks and grounds of the famous and not so famous. Not a random selection, though, but ones linked by the ancestral history of one Edward Milner who founded what was to become the landscape gardening company of choice for prominent land gentry.

Using an enthusiastic mulch of ancestral heritage and family dealings spanning four generations, forked in with barrow loads of background information regarding a seemingly endless collection of distinguished clientele, the author presents a detailed vision of the gardens and parks which have celebrated the creative handiwork of Milner and his partners.

The degree of detail concerning the landscape works described is astonishing, yet every fact, every morsel of history, every revelation, is eminently readable. Add in some fifty original plans and photographs, many taken by the author during his research, and I challenge you to close the covers before you reach the end.

But this is not just a book for the casual reader to roam through in front of a snug fire on a winter’s evening, or to enjoy among garden scents on a summer patio. For the enthusiast and gardening professional, there are indexed references, including a list of all the gardens and parks entrusted to the firm, complete with client names and dates.

Born in 1819, the son of a gardener at Chatsworth, Edward Milner was apprenticed to Joseph Paxton who sent him to London to report on various horticultural establishments and to Paris to study. Milner then became Paxton’s assistant and superintendent for establishing the gardens of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. After further work with Paxton, in 1858 Milner formed his own firm which designed and executed numerous landscape projects in Britain and abroad.

In 1870 Milner’s son, Henry, joined his father to work for increasingly prestigious clients including royalty. Henry later condensed their combined experiences into a controversial book, and laid out Wembley park. On Henry’s death the firm’s principal was his son-in-law Edward White, who became a director of the first Chelsea Flower Show in 1913.

The fourth generation evolved the firm into corporate work and when it closed in 1995 it was the oldest landscape gardening practice in the country.
Book review © 2012 Phil Wadner

The book is limited to 250 copies, each of which is numbered.

158 pages 51 illustrations paperback