Stowe is not a garden of flowers or shrubs ; it is a garden of ideas. 250 acres of carefully maintained gardens offer a complex web of views, pathways, statues, inscriptions, urns and provocations. Unlike its French floricultural precursors, Stowe presents sudden shifts of scene, abrupt revelations, as well as spots at which to stop to absorb the visual effect. There is natural beauty in the gardens of Stowe, but they serve a larger purpose than to please the eye. Beneath this façade of bucolic idyll lies a deeply important suggestion of man's relationship to nature. This important new collection of essays and artwork brings the together ideas from some of the leading thinkers on landscape design, exploring the gardens at Stowe, as well as Ian Hamilton Finlay's Little Sparta, as sites of conflict between order and disorder.