Detail of design for a parterre from 'Elysium Britannicum'
Author: Evelyn, John
Medium: Ink on paper
This garden design comes from John Evelyn's "Elysium Britannicum". "If the worke be rich and well ordered," Evelyn wrote, "it will appeare like a glorious embrodery; especially if to the excellency of invention, there be industry and skill in the clipping and entertaining." The parterre at Sayes Court, Evelyn's residence at Deptford, was influenced by Pierre Morin’s oval garden at Fauxbourg Saint Germain in Paris. Morin was a plant dealer who published catalogues of his collections from 1621. Evelyn visited his garden in 1644 and described it as "an exact oval figure, planted with cypresse cutt flat & set as even as a wall: the tulips, anemonies, ranunculus's, crocus's, & c. are held to be of the rarest..."
Evelyn recommended banking up the earth to give a relief effect in certain areas: "there may some of these spaces be a little embossed with mould, planted with low growing Flowers of various Colours which will resembles a rich and... noble Tapestry."
As well as the parterre there were less formal border beds, planted with taller flowers at the back and low growing plants, such as dianthus, at the front. These borders might be edged with timber, stone, tiles or brick.