Romans and roses: a personal history of Italian gardens - James Bolton - Friends Lecture & AGM

16 March 2017, 7.00 PM - 16 March 2017, 9.00 PM

James Bolton

The Frank Theatre, Wills Physics Laboratory, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TL

This talk will be preceded by the AGM which will start at 7pm.

There will be a short break around 7.30pm and the talk will start at 7.45pm.

James specialises in garden history in England from 1600 and the history of French and Italian gardens. He trained with the Direction des Parcs et Jardins in Paris, and after working with the Inchbald School of Design, became head gardener at the Old Rectory, Farnborough. He then set up his garden design business in 1992 and also now runs Border Lines organising garden tours in England and abroad.

The lecture explores the development of Italian gardens from the Emperor Hadrian’s 2nd century garden at Tivoli, which provided inspiration and building materials for generations of architects and garden makers. The Renaissance saw an explosion of garden making, principally around the new villas being built first outside Florence and later round Rome, which from 1500 witnessed the most exciting gardens of the period, from the Villa d’Este, through the bizarre Mannerist monsters that haunt the garden at Bomarzo to the Baroque splendours at Frascati, Isola Bella and latterly Caserta.

 The English passion for Italy was reciprocated at the end of the 18th and throughout the 19th century, as informally landscaped gardens replaced the formality that had presided until then.  The Villa Reale outside Lucca was remodelled by Napoleon’s sister Eliza, somewhat ironically in the English style. Formality returned around Florence at the beginning of the 20th century with the gardens created by Cecil Pinsent for English and American clients, culminating in his great work at La Foce for Iris Origo. Russell Page created the lovely garden at La Landriana south of Rome, but perhaps the most spectacular garden in Italy remains Ninfa, where the Caetani family created a gardener’s dream within the walls of a ruined medieval Italian town.

This lecture is organised by the Friends of the University of Bristol Botanic Garden.

The lecture will be held at the Frank Theatre, Wills Physics Laboratory, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TL.

All lectures start at 7.30pm (except in March) and are free to Friends on production of their membership card. Visitors will be asked for a donation (suggested £5). Attendees can use any University car park: the nearest are in University Walk and The Hawthorns. No booking necessary.

Disabled access: The University will make every effort to provide disabled access where possible. Disabled parking is available and wheelchair access is by the ramp at the side of the main steps. If you require support due to a disability please email:

Image for James Bolton Friends Lecture in March 2017

Villa Lante parterre (James Bolton)