John Claudius Loudon was a garden and landscape designer, and horticultural writer. He was an early exponent of the gardenesque landscape gardening style, founded The Gardener's Magazine, and was the author of the Encyclopaedia of Gardening.
He was born at Cambuslang in Lanarkshire, Scotland, and was the eldest son of William Loudon, a farmer, and his wife Agnes. His first (part-time) job was working for John Mawer, a landscape designer and nureryman at Dalry near Edinburgh, Scotland. After the death of Mawer in 1798, John Loudon became a part-time apprentice to Dickson and Shade, nurserymen in Edinburgh. He also started his 4 years as a student at the University of Edinburgh where he studied agriculture, botany and chemistry.
In 1803, after finishing university, John Loudon went to London, England. One of his lecturers at Edinburgh, Andrew Coventry, provided him with letters of introduction to various useful or influential people, including the naturalist, explorer and botanist, Sir Joseph Banks (born 1743, died 1820); and the philosopher, Jeremy Bentham (born 1748, died 1832).
His first published article on landscape design was published in 1803 when he wrote about the design of public squares in London for the Literary Journal. This was the first of many articles and books that he wrote about the design of gardens, parks and farms.
Between 1807 and 1811, he concentrated on farming and farm design. Having made money during this period, he went spent much of the following 3 years travelling. He toured southern England first, and then northern and central Europe and Russia.
He focused on the design of hothouses for a couple of years before setting off on his travels to research garden design and horticulture in other countries of Europe, including France and Italy. His major work, Encyclopaedia of Gardening, was published in 1822 and remained in print for the next 50 years.
The amputation of his right arm in 1825 did not stop John Loudon from working. He began publishing the Gardener's Magazine in 1826, and included his own articles on subjects such as urban planning and housing as well as horticulture.
He met his wife, Jane Webb, after reviewing a science fiction story by an anonymous author in 1828, The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century (1827), which impressed him. A couple of years later, he discovered that the author was Jane Webb. They got married 7 months later, and Jane worked closely with him for the rest of his life.
In 1835, Loudon designed a public garden (lost in the 1870s) in Gravesend, Kent, England. Four years later, he was commissioned to design a public park in Derby, England, the Derby Arboretum, which opened in 1840.
He started designing cemeteries in England 1842, first working on a design for one in Cambridge with the architect Edward Buckton Lamb (baptised 1805, died 1869), and then on Abbey Cemetery, Bath and one for Southampton. The Abbey Cemetery was not completed until the year after his death. His design for the Southampton Cemetery (now known as Southampton Old Cemetery) was altered and the cemetery finally opened in 1846.
John Claudius Loudon died on 14 December 1843, and was survived by his wife, Jane, and their daughter, Agnes.
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- Abbey Cemetery, Bath
- Alton Towers
- Bagshot Park
- Birmingham Botanical Gardens & Glasshouses
- Brompton Cemetery
- Brookwood Cemetery
- Castle Kennedy & Lochinch Gardens
- Derby Arboretum
- Farnley Hall, Otley
- Flitwick Manor
- The Garth
- Great Tew
- Harewood House
- Histon Road Cemetery
- Hope End
- Linton Park
- Llanarth Court
- Royal Victoria Park, Bath
- Scone Palace
- Southampton Old Cemetery
- St Peter's Square, Hammersmith
- Stradsett Hall