Percy Stephen Cane

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Percival Stephen Cane (1881–1976) was an English garden designer and writer.


Cane was born and educated in Essex, studying horticulture and architecture. He designed scores of gardens over a long and distinguished career, and won frequent medals for his gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show. As a writer, he published four books on gardening, and owned and published two horticulture magazines. His gardens were firmly in the Arts and Crafts style, and he was a particular admirer of Harold Peto's work.

Selected gardens[edit]

Cane began designing gardens around 1919 and within a decade he had become one of the most sought-after designers of his day.[1] His gardens range from the grounds of the Jubilee Palace of Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa, to a tiny town garden in Taptonville Road, Sheffield.[2] Other prestigious commissions included:

Awards and designations[edit]

Cane's contributions to important gardens in England are noted in nine entries in the Historic England Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England, which aims to "celebrate designed landscapes of note." They are: the 1927 terrace on the hilltop at St Ann's Hill in Chertsey; his embellishments and extensions in the late 1920s to designs by Gertrude Jekyll at Hascombe Court in Godalming; the gardens at Seven Stones House in Kent; advice on the gardens at Ditchingham Hall in Norfolk; 1930s developments to the gardens at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire; formal terraced gardens from the 1930s (no longer extant) at Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire; the 1940s Priory gardens at Hedsor House, Buckinghamshire; the tiltyard, hydrangea walk, glade, stone bastion, monumental flight of steps, and other features at Dartington Hall, Devon; and formal terraced gardens installed in 1960 at Sharpham House, Devon.[10]

Two gardens wholly or partly designed by Cane in Scotland are designated "of national importance" and are thus included on the Historic Scotland Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes. His work at Falkland Palace in the late 1940s "gives Falkland Palace gardens outstanding value as a Work of Art."[11] The river garden he designed for Monteviot, Jedburgh, in the 1960s contributes to the garden's designation as "outstanding."[12] In addition, the gardens designed by Cane are mentioned in the Statement of Special Interest for the listed building at Ardencraig, Rothesay.[13]

Cane exhibited show gardens at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show over a number of years, winning eight gold medals (in 1936, 1937, 1938, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951 and 1952) and three silver-gilt (1934, 1935 and 1950). In 1963 he was awarded the RHS's Veitch Memorial Medal,[4] an international prize awarded to "persons of any nationality who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the art, science or practice of horticulture."[14]

Selected writings[edit]

Cane published four books on horticulture during his career:

  • Modern Gardens British and Foreign, Special Winter Number of "The Studio", 1926–27, London : The Studio, 1927.
  • Garden design of to-day, London : Methuen, 1934.
  • The Earth Is My Canvas, London : Methuen, 1956.
  • The creative art of garden design, London : Country Life, 1967.

He also owned and edited the horticultural magazines My Garden, Illustrated (1918–20) and Garden Design (1930-38).

A full-length biography, Percy Cane, Garden Designer, was written by Ronald Webber and published in 1975.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Johnson, Charlotte (2004). "Cane, Stephen Percival [Percy] (1881-1976), garden designer and writer, by Charlotte Johnson in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 1. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/46397.
  2. ^ Webber, Ronald (1975). Percy Cane, Garden Designer. Edinburgh: J. Bartholomew. ISBN 978-0-7028-1080-0.
  3. ^ a b "Cane, Percy". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  4. ^ a b Johnson, Charlotte (2004). "Cane, Stephen Percival, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 1. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/46397.
  5. ^ "Percy Cane - Dartington". Dartington. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  6. ^ "Falkland Palace Garden". Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  7. ^ "Sutton Park Garden". Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  8. ^ "Cane, Percy". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  9. ^ "Cane, Percy". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  10. ^ England, Historic. "Search the List | Historic England". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  11. ^ "FALKLAND PALACE". Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  12. ^ "MONTEVIOT". Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  14. ^ "RHS Council - how to nominate people for RHS awards / RHS Gardening". Retrieved 2016-02-10.

See also[edit]