Re-creating 18th-century planting on an Elysian plain

Re-creating 18th-century planting on an Elysian plain

Feature

The Elysian Plain

Site

Painshill Park, Surrey

Issue

The Elysian Plain surrounded the Temple of Bacchus, which was a centre of entertainment for Charles Hamilton 's guests. It had become overgrown and its original 18th-century planting had been mostly lost by the late 20th century.

Solution - phase 1

Trees and flowering shrubs that would have been available to Hamilton, such as broom (Spartium junceum), shrubby mallow (Hibiscus syriacus) and a variety of roses, were originally used to restore the Elysian Plain.

Solution - phase 2

Flowerbed on the Elysian Plain, Painshill. Copyright Painshill Park Trust.Flowerbed on the Elysian Plain, Painshill. Copyright Painshill Park Trust. As present-day knowledge grew about how much flowering plants were used in 18th-century landscapes, the planting has been extended to include a much greater quantity and variety on the Plain.

Herbaceous plants such as bears' breeches (Acanthus mollis), coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and delphiniums have been added. A range of annual flowers, grown in the walled garden, are also bedded out each year, such as sunflowers (Helianthus annuus), love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) and tobacco flowers (Nicotiana tabacum).

Flowers on the Elysian Plain, Painshill Park. Copyright: Painshill Park Trust.Flowers on the Elysian Plain, Painshill Park. Copyright: Painshill Park Trust. The result is that the Elysian Plain is filled with bright, cheerful plantings that are in keeping with the 18th-century role of the Temple of Bacchus that it surrounds.

Further reading:

The restoration and re-creation of the 18th-century planting at Painshill Park

Finding evidence of a lost 18th-century garden temple (the Temple of Bacchus, Painshill Park).