William Robinson

Kingscote Estate’s vineyard is planted within the origins of William Robinson’s English country garden. Robinson completely redesigned and planted the entire landscape. More than eight lithographs of scenes in his Gravetye Manor diaries book were from the land that is now Kingscote Estate.

William Robinson is referred to as the ‘Father of the English country garden’ or ‘the grand old man of wild-flower gardening’. His ideas about wild gardening spurred the movement that evolved into the English cottage garden. When William Robinson celebrated his 95th birthday in 1933, the London Evening News wrote: “He changed the Face of England. Grand Old Man of the New Gardening”.

Robinson radically changed Victorian gardening, with his tirades against bedding out, his advocacy of the wild garden, and his books. The English Flower Garden (1883) has been described as ‘the most widely read and influential gardening book ever written’. The Wild Garden (1870) runs it close.

Robinson possessed a forward-thinking approach to what we now call ecology and sustainability, to the protection of public parks and wildernesses and to the importance of green spaces for our health and wellbeing. He understood well the importance of having trees in the landscape, and planted hundreds of thousands round his estate. His diary of planting and care was published as Gravetye Manor, or Twenty Years of the Work round an old Manor House (1911). It was at Gravetye Estate that William Robinson realised many of his ideas for the creation of the English natural garden. He wrote with passion about the technicalities of mushroom cultivation and the picturesque treatment of the thousand-acre estate. Much of the estate had been managed as a coppiced woodland, giving Robinson the opportunity to plant drifts of scillacyclamen, and narcissus between the coppiced hazels and chestnuts. On the edges, and in the cleared spaces in the woods, Robinson established plantings of Japanese anemonelilyacanthus, and pampas grass, along with shrubs such as fothergillastewartia, and Nyssa.