The English landscape garden of the 18th century was the one stylistic lead that continental Europe was eager to follow. Was it a natural evolution or a chain of absolute revolutions? This work reappraises the age of the English Arcadia, tracing garden style's development through the designers and their gardens - men including Vanbrugh, Repton, London and Wise, as well as lesser known but important contemporaries. The author suggests that the professionals were blinkered conformists, making money first and gardens second. In a highly competent way, Inigo Jones, Capability Brown and others were all negative reactionaries, tied to the politcal, social and economic forces of their time. The innovators, with the leisure and the detachment to dream, were the amateurs, all with gentry pretensions; John Evelyn, Lords Cobham and Burlington, Alexander Pope, William Shenstone and Richard Payne Knight. These were the mould-breakers, the horticultural Jacobins of the gardens. The two dreams that lured them on to experiment should have been incompatible, but in the event worked together. One was a lost, mythical perfection of classical Greece - the scholar's Gardens of Epicurus; the other was the Puritan's vision of Romantic Nature - the real Paradise Lost, a raw beauty of wild hills and woodland waters. A key feature of the book is its garden tours for the designer or group of designers covered in each chapter. In addition to its use for students of history of art and architecture, garden and cultural history, the book should act as a companion for visitors to historic gardens.