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Author: Linda Farrar

Roman gardening

Updated Tuesday, 30th June 1998

The Romans arrived in the British Isles, bringing a number of new plants with them.

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Linda Farrar

Now what could be more quintessentially English than a walk through an orchard munching on an apple…well did you know it was actually the Romans who introduced the sweet apple to Britain? And a lot more besides. Linda Farrar, a classicist and archaeologist with a special interest in gardens and their history, visits the Open Minds’ garden to show us how much of our 'native' flora was actually introduced by the Romans.

The Romans used plants and flowers for a wide range of activities – cooking, decoration, religious rites, medicine, making honey, garlands and perfume. As a consequence, when they occupied Britain they brought with them many of the plants they used. Box hedges, foxgloves and roses were all Roman imports, as well as foods like onions, apples, walnuts and rosemary.

Take it further

Ancient Roman Gardens, Linda Farrar (Sutton Publishing)

Roman Gardens and their Plants, Claire Ryley (Fishbourne Roman Palace)

The Roman Empire, C Wells (Fontana History of the Ancient World)

The Roman World 44BC-AD180, M Goodman (Routledge History of the Ancient World)

Roman Civilization: Selected Readings Volume II The Empire, N Lewis, M Reinhold (Columbia University Press)


An excellent place to see a recreated Roman garden is at Fishbourne Roman Palace near Chichester.

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