Sub title: British Gardens in India
Author: Eugenia W. Herbert
A deeply researched yet wonderfully readable history of Britain’s ‘garden imperialism’ in India
In this deeply researched yet wonderfully readable history of Britain’s ‘garden imperialism’ in India, Eugenia W. Herbert draws on a wealth of personal accounts and period illustrations, many of them little known, to track the evolution of imperial ideas of governance through colonial gardens.
The British created gardens in India not just out of simple nostalgia or homesickness, but also to put a visible stamp of ‘civilization’ on an alien, untamed land. Colonial gardens changed over time, from the ‘garden houses’ of the East India Company’s nabobs modelled on English country estates and the hill station gardens where English flowers could be coaxed into bloom to the neat flowerbeds, gravel walks, well-trimmed lawns and hedges of the Victorian sahibs. Every Government House, Civil Lines bungalow and cantonment was carefully landscaped to reflect current ideals of an ordered society. The British also made India part of the global network of botanical exploration and plant-collecting, and developed tea gardens and opium-poppy plantations to fill the coffers of the Empire.
More than sixty years after the British left, their garden legacy still lives on, reflected in the design of municipal parks and IT campuses, and in the tastes and practices of countless Indian home gardeners who take pride in their green lawns and flowerbeds full of English flowers.
Penguin Books India
15 Jan 2013
400pp with 20pp col pics
Indian Subcontinent and Myanmar only