The Mediaeval garden had many purposes – medicinal, food-production, a place ofcontemplation, and a refuge from the outside world. Plants and flowers were laden with Christian symbolism – lilies and roses represented the Virgin Mary, the passion flower illustrated the Passion of Christ, and the holly represented the Crown of Thorns. The management and upkeep of gardens, however were not the subject of interest at a practical level, other than for the women responsible for maximising food production.

By the Tudor period, however, kings and courtiers were taking a direct interest in their gardens – exchanging plants and discussing the best methods of growing them. Garden design and development became an adjunct to the architectural interests of the great Renaissance builders, Francois I in France, James V in Scotland, and Henry VIII in England.

The sixteenth century is the first period for which detailed plans and drawings survive, and it is possible through recreations at places including Hampton Court and Kenilworth Castle to have a glimpse of the gardens that delighted the wealthy.

Lower down the social scale, manuals on husbandry and herbals were being published, and avidly read by the growing middle class.