Jacob van der Ulft, An imaginary view of 'Het Tolhuis' on the River Merwede, near Gorcum. Dutch, 1654. FM: PD.749-1963 © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

This view of the Customs House on the River Merwede, by the Dutch artist Jacob van der Ulft, is a work of fancy as well as observation. The garden is imaginary. However, with its symmetrical parterres, walkways, bridge and espaliered fruit trees, it epitomises many typical features of seventeenth-century walled gardens: a peaceful, well-ordered place to transact business, socialise, or simply take a stroll. To those who knew how to interpret them, such features could communicate messages about the nature of moral virtue, the wealth and status of the garden owner, or the power and magnificence of the monarch.