It was in n c. 600 BCE +/-that the first true Garden Maverick raised his head above the garden parapet. King Nebuchadnezzar The Second established himself as a supreme Maverick by having the Hanging Gardens of Babylon built for his homesick Persian wife. In one stroke he booked himself onto the Wonders Of The World Top Eight Chart.
Another major player was Daedalus first mentioned by Homer in the 8th century BCE. It was he who built a Labyrinth in the garden of King Minos who needed it to imprison the Minotaur, the result of his perverted wife’s indiscretion with a bull. It is doubtful that either of these stories are true but if they exist only in the fanciful channels of Greek Mythology they at least display a great respect for the concept of Maverickism.
Gardens, as we know them in Europe really began to gather prominence under Cosimo de’ Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The gates of monasteries were flung open and the flushed and fabulous quickly imitated the holy courtyard gardens adapting them for their personal glorification. Other countries too started to develop their own traditions. The Japanese had been strategically placing rocks encircled with steady gravel raking for many moons, The Greeks had mythology, the Persians taught the Egyptians and the French believed that gardens united the earthly with the divine.
So far so fitting. Garden design, as a practice, was fairly novel and any move away from the strict formalities inherent in monastic spaces may have hinted at maverickism but it was hard to find the real thing until the English radically elbowed the traditional mega formal layouts of the Italian and French in the 18th century. It was our own heroic Lancelot ‘The Landscaper’ Brown, (rather irritatingly over-known as ‘Capability’) that kindled a particularly British free form of garden maverickism. He is now considered virtually classical and much imitated, but back then he shook up the gardening world by its roots.
Today Garden Mavericks are amongst us performing well in the private sector, less so in the rule laden, H&S covered public parks and pitches. Manuals on safety regulations, health regulations, PC regulations, financial regulations, regulations about regulations and squeezed budgets and allwances limit the chances of nonconformist garden design getting much beyond the first page. Happily well trained mavericks do wriggle through the net and produce some mind opening work and we will be celebrating these exciting projects, both private and commercial over the coming months.